There are several storage tubs currently sitting under my bed. They hold things of mine: gloves, an extra hat, shoes, summer clothes neatly folded and laundered.
We tend to associate storage with organization, or unneeded items, or solved predicaments. Our closets hold possessions that are not necessary for regular use, or perhaps they keep hidden things that shouldn’t be seen by visitors in our lives.
Each one of us has a heart closet. In his great redemptive work of love, Jesus cleans out our souls with his blood and enters inside. He takes up residence (Eph 3:17-19), and as we grow up spiritually, he travels further, requesting access into more and more chambers of our closets.
Sometimes, though, there are scars. We make mistakes that leave deep wounds. We run to disobedience, lusting after idols and sin. We bury a hatchet instead of dealing with it. We overlook our offenses against others. In our pride, we sometimes assume a resolution out of fear of conflict and run past the root.
How does the Christian navigate the renting of our spiritual heart tissue? Romans 7:15-20: Paul testifies to this battle, this war of sin and healing, fleshly law and saving grace. We cannot heal on our own. The Divine Surgeon works in our intricacies, but only if we do not stay his hand. It hurts, you see, to undo stitches and apply hydrogen peroxide. It’s painful and tear-staining to let our Father remove splinters from our hands after we’ve disobeyed his command not to run them along the fence.
Healing is agonizing. It also takes time. The process of sanctification is not one that we can handle right away; maybe that’s why God works slowly, condescending for our own good. I know that as much as I desire refinement now, the Lord has a different process in mind. I will spend the rest of my life on this earth in the smelting pot as the Master Craftsman stirs to even out my blemishes.
The less I resist, the easier it will be to let the Holy Spirit dwell in my heart. I can then participate obediently as he sweeps out my junk, binds my scars, and fills me with clean things.
Humbling ourselves to see our true state is an ugly task that I know I want to resist. And yet, until I see myself for what I truly am–a chosen daughter, but one who is still very much in the process of being molded and healed–I cannot grow. Seeing the reality of my dirty closet chambers is gruesome, but one cannot take a lie to God. Honesty before God enables us to say as Isaiah did in the throne room, “‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’”
And in his grace, he cleanses us. As the narrative continues in beautiful reality, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (6:5-7).
We have to just see it. Take it. And let him.