I’m willing to share my filthy storm door with you because it speaks to my soul today! As you can see in the photo, the window glass looks fine where the sun isn’t directly shining on it. But where the light streams through, you can see all the dirt and fingerprints! Each morning when the sun beams through the door, I tell myself that I have some cleaning to do- until the sun moves on and the door looks fine once again.
Today the storm door is telling me that I need to hold myself up to the light of God’s love and ask God to reveal those things I need to remedy. Sometimes the dirt and grime of sin aren’t obvious unless they are exposed to this light. Whatever I need to clean up or make right, I must do- and not just hope that these issues won’t be noticed under “normal” conditions.
But there is another message.
What I find challenging about window cleaning is that I have to repeat the process several times. I wash the window thoroughly and vigorously until I believe the window is clean. But when the sun shines upon it I still see a few smudges and residue left behind. So I clean again, and then wait for the sunlight to reveal what I’ve missed. Often times it takes me several tries to get a window completely clean. Wash. Watch. Repeat.
The same thing happens when God reveals something I need to do. Perhaps I am to ask for forgiveness. Or seek reconciliation. Or extend kindness and mercy. Or do a sacrificial service for another. And I find that in doing what God asks, I find peace and joy beyond my understanding. But more often than not, a lingering residue remains. A small part of me- the petty part of me- is still smudged and dirty, unpleasing to God… and unsettling for me.
For example, when God moves me to do something gracious and kind, I feel the joy of sharing God’s love. But a smudge of self-righteousness may then appear. When I have sinned and God hears my plea for forgiveness, I feel relieved and cleansed. But often some residue of guilt remains. When God invites me to serve sacrificially, I find peace and camaraderie with Jesus. But a smear of resentment also wants to come along. When God leads me to mercifully forgive someone, I feel obedient and unburdened. But the blemish of a slowly-healing wound may still linger.
I am like the dirty window glass. I must keep placing myself into the light of God. As God reveals the filth I need to clean up, I will get to work. With God’s help, I can begin the major task of the initial cleaning. Then I will come again before God’s light of love, and God will point out, “Well, Karen, you have started well, but you left a little smudge…” Wash. Watch. Repeat.
God’s gift to us in this process is that the revealing light shining on us IS a light of pure love. The awareness of our flaws may be painful and humbling. The cleansing process may be arduous and repetitive. But at each step we are placing ourselves into the holy splendor of the light of God’s love! God’s cleansing light is a warm, gentle, bright, beautiful, illuminating light of LOVE. What could be better? Where else could we find such joy?
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all… If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and… Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:5,7-9 NRSV)