A lesson found in the clutter.
It’s crunch time for me! In exactly one month a horde of college students will be at my house for the weekend. My youngest and next to youngest will be bringing car loads of friends for their formal here in our town. So this month I am in mad cleaning mode. Here’s the background.
Mom passed away 22 months ago. I brought all her personal belongings to my basement, and there they’ve sat this whole time.
I’m not lazy.
I’m not a hoarder.
I’ve gone to the basement approximately 20 times since then planning to clean out and throw away. But all of those subterranean excursions have lasted less than an hour. As I begin to sort, I become emotional, overcome with memories and grief. Whether it is a visual memory connected to an item, a smell of my mom’s perfume, or something totally unexplainable to me, something always ignites my emotions and I find myself
unable unwilling to continue.
But this year for Lent I heard of the idea of giving up your clutter. (I know, I know, it doesn’t really fulfill the purpose of Lent, but bear with me here.) The idea proposed giving away one bag full of unused items from your home for each of the 40 days of Lent. So I’m trying it. It is not a spiritual thing,… but it is. It is deeply affecting me and teaching me.
Today as I gathered up another bag, I entered the unused bedroom in the basement that contains the leftovers of my mom’s life. Once again the aroma of her face cream, the sight of her old kitchen utensils and the stuff of her life – her address book, her phone, her purse – all threatened to undo me once again. Then I caught sight of her sifter. That precious old kitchen utensil! The one I begged her to let me help with from the time I was 5 years old and that I had seen her use hundreds of times in the past brought a smile. And I thought – I’ll take that upstairs and clean it up and use it in my kitchen. So now it sits soaking in my sink.
Somehow in that sifter I see a spiritual picture of redemption and restoration.
Redemption – the act of offsetting the bad effect of, making worthwhile, extricating from, or helping to overcome something detrimental
Restoration – the return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
You see, Mom had to move out of the her home of forty-five years and into an assisted living about 5 years prior to her death due to a fall and health issues. She didn’t really want to move, so we locked the house up and kept it as it was for a year – just in case she wanted to move back you understand. 😉
After a year locked up and unoccupied, mice, raccoons, etc. had taken up residence in the 70+ year old house. Due to their chewing and nesting and such, most of the things she had left behind when she moved to Lakewood were not salvageable. Those things that held a dear memory for us kids we did try to retrieve and clean up. This sifter was one of those things for me, but it was still in the dirty, forgotten shape it had been in when I brought it from my childhood home years ago.
Anyone else would quickly toss that sifter in the trash bin destined for the dump. But I see its worth. I love it. It is dear to me.
People are like that sifter. Seemingly worthless in the eyes of some, but of great worth and greatly loved and treasured by the Father. Redeemable. He sees our usefulness. He remembers fondly the times we were close to Him and longs for that again. He longs to put us in that warm soapy water and wash us up, scrub us with a Brillo pad and make us shine. He tenderly cares for us as He cleans and restores lest that timeworn wooden knob break or that metal mesh get split open. He gently works with us in our hearts, through His Word, and through people around us who “love us back” to a restored state. You are worth restoring!
He has a plan for us, just like I have a plan for that sifter. You see, this week is my eldest’s 30th birthday, and I intend to teach some of my closest loves (my grandsons) to use “Peppymint’s” sifter as we make their dad a birthday cake. I’m planning a celebration, and that sifter is central to my plan! No, it won’t be noticed by many. And yes, it will end up sitting in my cabinet except for maybe a few days a month when I happen to bake. But it is not forgotten. It is not useless. It is crucial! It is cherished! And so are you!
If you find yourself feeling too dirty to be used, unredeemable, stored away and forgotten, not worth restoring, or old and worn out and wondering if you’re still needed by the Father, Stop! You may have lived through the years of rust and dust of sin and deception coating you over. You may have had your season being stored in the basement, but He’ll bring you out in time to make the cake for the party. He knows how to restore you and clean you up. He needs you for His purposes. We, the body, need you.
You have a purpose in God’s plan as long as you have breath in your lungs. You may be the thing that brings Him great joy as He uses you in the background. Or you may be displayed in front of His closest loves as He teaches them something wonderful. Or you may not be a sifter at all; you may be a Mont Blanc pen, or a Battenburg lace tablecloth, or a latchhook rug He carefully wove together. But you have a place in God’s plan. Never forget the story of the sifter.
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5