Locked Doors and Dirty Rooms
When we decide to follow Jesus, it could be likened to giving him the keys to your house, where the house is your complete being – spirit, soul and body. To the spirit He gets immediate access, but the soul and the body are areas that have to be yielded daily for the rest of our lives. However, some of us want to give over our keys to Jesus after having locked a few doors here and there. After all, we wish to spare Jesus from all of the dirt in there.
Sin, offence, and fear are the most common contents of locked rooms. They sit within the sealed walls like piles of rotting garbage, decomposing steadily into a foul, poisonous mess. To our annoyance, Jesus never accepts locked rooms. He either gets the entire house or nothing at all. You would best believe that before long, if you don’t surrender the keys, He will break the door down, and then you can be assured that the cleanup operations will be intrusive, extensive, disruptive and exhaustive. However, we could do what we should, and just hand our keys over, and then we can be assured that even though the cleanup will be felt, there will be a grace to accompany the changes you are sure to face.
Handing over your keys would involve some of the following steps:
We all think we know ourselves but the truth is, many of us are more messed up than we realise and more in denial than we care to admit. Prayer allows the Lord to pull the scales off of our eyes so that honest introspection can become possible. He gives us the strength to identify the locked doors to the dirty rooms of our life. When in prayer, take more time to listen, than to speak. From my experience, I can usually tell when God is trying to point out a locked door when I find myself trying to shut out what He is trying to bring to my attention in my heart. Being humble and receptive in prayer is a must if dirty rooms are ever to be cleaned.
2. Honest Introspection
As I mentioned above, some of us never get here because we refuse to allow the Lord to soften our hearts in prayer. Granted that our hearts have been softened and made receptive however, honest introspection should immediately follow. This step involves shining a light deep into our emotions, for oftentimes this is where we will find the signposts that point to locked doors. Is there something that just makes you angry when you think about it? It could be a memory from childhood, or the sting of a broken relationship, or a deep disappointment with yourself. How about identifying something that moves you to tears? Can you think of something that you’re afraid to address? All these emotions will come to light when we engage in introspection but the temptation will be to shove them back into the dirty dark corners in which we have kept them for the past days, months and years. This is why honest introspection must always be accompanied by prayer, because we need spiritual backup when dealing will old hurts.
3. Reconciling Consequences
The resistance to allowing Jesus Christ to open the locked doors in our hearts so that He can clean the dirty rooms is sometimes due to the fact that we have not come to terms with the consequences of the choices that we have made. Somehow we manage to convince ourselves that our choices and actions should just disappear now that we are in Christ, and so we carry anger at God for the fact that we are living out the consequences of our actions. We figure that if God could leave us to suffer like this, then He can’t be trusted to clean up anything in our lives because we associate this cleanup with more suffering. Instead of taking responsibility for our actions, we transfer the anger we should have toward our own sin to the Lord, making Him out to have evil intentions toward us. This is unfortunate and it drives a wedge between us and God, and makes clean up long and painful. Consequences accompany choices. It is a simple and profound fact of life. God gives us grace in all things, but sometimes consequences just have to be worked out because, quite frankly, we may not learn the lesson and modify our mindsets otherwise.
4. Embrace the Pain
Do you abort cleanup as soon as things get unpleasant? You, my friend, are just making things worse for yourself. Remember, if Jesus is indeed your Lord, then He has every right to every room in the house of your heart, so you cannot lock Him out. Somehow, someway He will be in there someday. Cleanup is painful because it takes time. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes reliance on the Lord, because the length of time that we have left the garbage of sin, offence and fear to fester has created quite a stench in there. You need to keep the end goal in mind. Do you want to be able to love and serve God with your whole heart? Do you want to be able to spend eternity with Him? Then endure the pain a little while- in fact, EMBRACE the pain. Pain indicates that growth and change are in the process of taking place. This should honestly make you happy. It means that freedom is around the corner, and that the Lord Jesus will finally be able to occupy every space in your heart without reservation.
5. Be Naked
Honesty is one thing, but nakedness FEELS different. Being naked involves being stripped of everything that protects you, and shields you from shame. It involves bearing yourself before the Lord and letting Him have access to every ugly thought, every blemish in your character; every secret hatred that you harbour for yourself and others. Expect to feel exposed. Expect to feel ashamed even. Expect to grow closer to God as a result. In my own life there were people that I was sure that I’d forgiven, yet whenever I thought of them unsavoury words and emotions would rise up instantaneously, like a rowdy entourage of mockers yelling out that I had deceived myself. One day I had to strip myself of self-delusion and admit the truth to God. “Lord...I REALLY DISLIKE THEM...FINE! I HATE THEM!!! I WANT TO SEE THEM SUFFER!!” When I admitted it, I felt incredibly ashamed because I really had TRIED to forgive them once...twice.. maybe multiple times. Only God could help me resolve that thoroughly. Once I was naked before Him, it was like I had handed over the keys, and He opened the door, turned on the lights and got to cleaning.