In preparation for Thanksgiving, I spent all day Wednesday doing a “level 3” cleaning (as my brother-in-law would say)…scrubbing baseboards, washing windows, dusting ceiling fans. I was not inconvenienced by any of this — it was all part of the holiday plan.
In the days that followed, however, I have grown very inconvenienced by the messy things that need cleaning. Crumbs on the floor, dishes left out, toys mysteriously appearing everywhere — each sighting of them create a slow build of resentment. In my mind, the two days I spent cleaning before Thanksgiving should last a month at least.
As I look around my house, and around our neighborhood, everyone has their Christmas decorations out. They spent time one day to dig up all their stuff from either their attic or basement, rearrange furniture, bring out ladders, buy extension cords — all to decorate for this wonderful time of year. No one is inconvenienced by it — it’s all part of the holiday plan.
In the days that follow Christmas however, everyone is very eager to remove all decorations, get the house back in order and move on. Leftover wrappings, packages, bows and pine needles lead to aggravation. Finding lost ornaments that rolled under the couch, which now require a trek back to the attic to find the one box that it belonged in…it’s inconvenient. Stacking all the empty boxes from the overload of toys to the curb for the garbage man to pick up…it’s inconvenient. Throwing away multiple containers of leftover food…it’s inconvenient. Preparing for Christmas and celebrating Christmas is wonderful. It’s all part of the holiday plan. It’s the clean up that’s inconvenient.
I think God was a little inconvenienced after that first Christmas, too. Not immediately after…but 33 years after. Preparing for Jesus’ birth and celebrating his life was wonderful. Mary was part of a once-in-a-lifetime miracle. The shepherds experienced the glory of the Lord shining around them. The great host of angels sang and praised gloriously. The Magi brought gold, incense and myrrh. It was beautiful. It was all part of the holiday plan.
But 33 years later, the clean up was inconvenient. There was blood to be shed, sin to be atoned for, a sacrifice to be made. The cleaning God had to do was on a scale well beyond my comprehension. The sin that God had to clean up must have been more obvious than the light crumbs on my dark wood floors. The streaks of the hand prints of humanity on our souls must have been more glaringly painful than 4 year-old fingerprints on my windows. The blood stains below the cross must have nauseated him much more than mud and coffee stains on my carpet.
As I mutter under my breath about another spot to sweep, another window to wipe, or another stain to remove, I want to be reminded that it’s really not as inconvenient as I think it is. Inconvenient is watching your innocent Son take the fall for someone else. Inconvenient is watching your Son’s mother grieve over the loss of her boy. Inconvenient is seeing the heartbreak of a generation who thinks this is the end, and that all hope is lost. Even when it was all part of the holiday plan.
No, when this season is over, I can still handle the clean up. I will appreciate the multiple loads of dishes, vigorous mopping and endless vacuuming. Knowing I will never be as inconvenienced as God was humbles me to be grateful for just a messy floor. Knowing I will never be as inconvenienced as God was makes me appreciative of the fact I just have laundry. Knowing I will never be as inconvenienced as God was makes me praise Him that all I have to do is clean out the refrigerator.
I love him for his holiday plan.
“Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!” (Heb 12:27-29, The Message)