Lessons From the Vacuum Cleaner

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5

Jesus and I don’t usually talk when I’m cleaning, but today was different. Monday has been my “cleaning day”, with few exceptions, since we moved to our new home last October.

Today was no different. Lucky for me, my husband had just bought a new vacuum cleaner (Why do you do that to us, husbands?) It had been sitting nicely in the corner for a week and he complained yesterday that I hadn’t used it yet. Today was the day!( Now, our previous vacuum had been out of commission for a few months, and I had spent several weeks on my hands and knees picking up the noticeable pieces of garbage.)

For some reason God decided to make His presence evident in the mundane task of vacuuming. In fact, during my 5 hour clean-fest, He revealed countless spiritual illustrations.

The most striking one revolved around the dirt in my carpet. As I vacuumed room after room, making several trips to the garbage bag dumping the vacuum canister, I was brought back to that day in April. The day my life changed. The day I spent 4 hours repenting.

For 4 years I had been on my hands and knees picking up the big pieces of sin from my spiritual carpet until that day in April where God ran His vacuum cleaner over my soul. I hadn’t been off the deep end running amok in all sorts of depravities. No, I had spent the last few years reading, studying and soaking in every bit of God’s word that I could. I served in my church, and was learning how to serve my husband. I was growing. You would never have thought I needed to spend a day repenting of much. I know I didn’t.

When that new vacuum rolls over the dirty carpet, so much is revealed that was invisible to the naked eye.

Just like my living room carpet, I was unable to pick up the finite pieces of dust with my hands. And so it is for most of us. We walk through our lives with our 15 minute devotions in the morning and ten minutes of prayer at night (twenty minutes if there’s a crisis) picking up the big things leaving the particles behind.

Like he did with Isaiah, God desires to sear our hearts with the hot coals of his presence. The problem is we take Him for granted. We take his truth for granted. We take his holiness for granted. We think we’re so much better than we are. Meanwhile, our spiritual carpet collects bags of filth until one day we have an encounter we’ll never forget. God brings us to our knees, rolling over us with His vacuum, sucking out all the junk. He won’t let His children rest comfortably with dirty hearts.

And then it’s done, right? One painful day of brutal honesty and we’re good.

You’d think after 5 hours of cleaning I’d be satisfied with the state of my home, but as I walked through the rooms admiring my labor, I noticed the base-boards. Oh yes, still more work to be done, and by the time I get around to the base-boards, the piano will need dusting, more laundry will need to be cleaned, and I’ll probably be vacuuming again.

Just like our carpets continue to collect dust and dirt, our spiritual lives do the same. He reveals only what we can handle at the moment. The more he purges, the more we notice new areas that need cleansing.

If Jesus walked into your spiritual house today, would you be embarrassed? Well I’ve got news for you. He’s already there, he is present with you at all times whether you “feel” it or not. Does his holiness astound and confound you? Could you claim to be as holy as the prophet Isaiah? Even as righteous as he was, when in the presence of Almighty God, he couldn’t stand his spiritual state.

Today, the lesson from the vacuum cleaner reminds me to stand amazed at the person of Christ and to seek His cleansing frequently, remembering what I am without Him.

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags…Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the Potter; we are all the work of your hands.” Isaiah 64:6&8

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Freedom is Here

clean

Yesterday was a big day in my life; I would venture to say it was a life-changing experience, second only to my conversion. You should see my face today, I cried so much my eyes are swollen. I don’t even have the energy to put make-up on. Spiritual warfare is exhausting.

Two days after my last bout of major depression my Sunday Class teacher emailed me (completely unaware of my struggles-nice work, God) and invited me to partake in an afternoon of fighting for my spiritual freedom. That certainly sounded like something I needed. I agreed and we set a date, April 29th.

It was 1:00pm before I made it into the modular room where my teacher Steve, sponsor Kimmy, and another prayer warrior, Terry, awaited my arrival. Steve and I worked through the 7 Steps to Freedom in Christ (Neil T. Anderson) while Terry and Kimmy prayed for me…for 4 hours.

“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'” Isaiah 1:18

I went in with mild expectations of what would happen, but I emerged a changed woman. I discovered fighting for my freedom was hard, painful, and exhausting. Throughout this ordeal I uncovered bitterness I was unaware of, strongholds that had been weighing me down, and serious repentance of issues I had never regarded as sin. What happened was extremely personal, and for the first time in my life I was 100% honest. I heard my own voice declare sins, repent, renounce, and claim freedom in Christ. Verbal reinforcement is powerful.

There I stood in the presence of God, uncovered and completely exposed. I had to make a choice.

All of my years of bulimia, addiction, rebellion, self-mutilation, and controlling had only served as a means of self punishment. I was giving myself what I thought I deserved. In order to walk in Freedom, I had to choose to forgive myself and renounce my sin. Steve insisted, “You don’t just ‘try’ to forgive, you must choose to forgive yourself.” Whew, it was powerful and it took me several minutes to work through.

“As far as the east is from west, so far has God removed our transgression from us.” Psalm 103:12

There was a lot more to this than forgiveness. Specific issues had to be recalled (which was not fun), and their sinful patterns renounced. It was basically 4 hours of repentance. During this time the battle raged on in my head (the enemy at work), I would read a statement like, “I am innocent” and would hear, “You will never be innocent!” I had to renounce the enemy repeatedly in every area of my life. I’m telling you, folks, the war against the spirit is serious. Satan does not want my freedom, but guess what? He has no power here anymore.

“So take everything the Master has set out for you, well made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way…This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:10-12 msg

I left that meeting not just feeling like I was lighter, but knowing I was set free. Once and for all, it was over. The decades of depression, the eating disorder, the sins of my haunting past; it was over. I was no longer defined by my past. I am not a failure, disappointment, or a worthless whore. I was clean, I was whole. I had prayed for years to be made whole, I had begged and pleaded for healing and often wondered if God had turned his back on me. But yesterday, April 29th, I was set free once and for all. Spiritually and emotionally made whole. I walked out of that room whiter than snow. Finally, what I knew in the Word connected with my own experience.

The battle is not over, the war wages on. Is the enemy done with me? I doubt it. He is forever seeking to destroy my faith. What is different? I am equppied now to fight the battle with truth that sets me free. I know what to look for, I know how the enemy develops strongholds, and I know how to stop it. I can say with all authority under heaven, in the name of Christ Jesus, I have been healed and made whole. I am free.

(Neil T. Anderson has authored many books on spiritual freedom including, Victory Over Darkness, The Bondage Breaker, Overcoming Depression, and the manual I went through, The Steps to Freedom in Christ)

*In the coming posts I will list specific prayers from the 7 Steps to Freedom.