Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hidden Grime

Company: the kind of people you clean your house for. Prestigious company: the kind who motivate you to scour it. When I got out the long-armed feather duster on Friday, Mom thanked me but said she intended to dust properly today. So, putting away the "quick 'n' dirty" tool, I got out the rags and oil soap.

Although it had been awhile since we'd formally dusted, the house really looked fine to me. After all, we don't burn wood for heat, and the snow and mud haven't given the road a chance to kick up plumes of dust. Never mind. We had company tomorrow.

Maybe it's because we always keep the dishes washed and the rooms picked up and tidy; or perhaps I don't notice the grime my mom sees because the place doesn't belong to me. Still, I think it's more than that. In the absence of grandkids, our house is a never mess, because Mom doesn't give it the chance to get truly dirty. But for company, of course, we'd make it perfect.

I expected to fly through Friday's dusting and be on to the next task; but today, of course, I had to be extra thorough. The first rag collected more filth than I'd expected to find in all the house! The crevices in the wooden furniture had actually accumulated thick layers. The feather duster hadn't gotten up close underneath the candles and other knickknacks. The lampshades had a thin film I'd never noticed before I started cleaning.

Most shocking of all were the corners. Behind the draping leaves of a viney houseplant I found cobwebs, dog hair, dead ladybugs, and wads of dust caked onto the legs of the plant stand. How could such grime be hidden in our cleanly dining room? Why had I never even partially noticed it? The ordinary film on the horizontal surfaces I'd seen and intended to whisk away—but this was no typical accumulation of dust. This was filth.

Hidden grime, obscured behind the beautiful, trailing leaves of a plant I've often admired. Even the best of housekeepers could miss it—till the leaves were drawn aside. It probably would have stayed hidden longer, if it hadn't been for the company, because no one would have investigated behind those lovely leaves.

It felt like an insult, finding that hidden grime in our clean house. Insult? Hmm...maybe a rebuke. Not that we'd put the plant there to hide the filthy corner; we'd simply forgotten to clean the corner because the plant had it covered so well. Neglect, all the same.

This time, I lingered in that corner, carefully cleaning away the grime. I didn't mind the work, because it inspired deeper thoughts. How many corners hide filth in my mind, my character, my soul? Behind the traits that others admire, what grime have I stashed away? Bitterness, resentment, egotism, jealousy, lust, pride, distrust, unbelief? Do I even know myself what's there—or have I been satisfied with my good housekeeping?

It takes extra investigation to find dust in the soul I've always tried to keep tidy. It's not intuitive to peek behind my strong points and check for ghastly faults and sin-inflicted wounds. Still, it's worth the probing. After all, a prestigious Visitor wants to be my guest. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).

Then again, I need His help to find and eliminate my hidden grime. I think I'll just let Him in "as is," and we can work on those corners together.

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