Here in Spain, I live in the basement of a church. It’s underground and doesn’t get the most sunlight, but overlooks the most beautiful scenery of the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. We have an amazing balcony that can fit plenty of people during the warm months, as well as a fireplace in the living room that makes the house toasty and inviting during chilly months.
Between the houses of interns, mine is the larger of the two, which means most social events are hosted here. We typically have people over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, which also means we spend a lot of time cleaning the house. We long to maintain a standard of excellence, so when people come over, we like to present a house that reflects that standard.
I feel like some days I spend so much time cleaning, that when I pause for a second, the dirt is back where I just cleaned. It seems like a never ending cycle.
Clean, dirty. Clean, dirty. Clean, dirty.
We hosted tapas last night, which in Spanish culture is where family and friends from the community come and enjoy good food and good people as a fun way to unwind from the week. Unlike other nights, we cut the evening early to make a trek to the mall and see the new Hobbit movie. Of course, we didn’t bother to clean before we left, so when we sheepishly crawled into bed at 2 am, cleaning the house was not priority. However, when I woke up this morning, I knew it would take some effort to clean based on the smell of old food and dirty plates and leftover ashes in the fireplace.
After making my grandma’s homemade coffee cake and brewing fresh coffee for the house, I changed, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work. One of my housemates was sitting on the couch and, as I started sweeping the living room, he said, “I don’t think it gets too dirty in here. I never see the dirt and don’t see the need to clean so much. I actually think it’s pretty clean most of the time.” I chuckled as I saw the dirt and crumbs pile up with every brush of the broom.
As I swept the dirt into the dustpan, I noticed our balcony could use a good sweep. When glancing around, I assumed that the wind would probably take most of the leaves and branches away and that there was no need for me to sweep. Then, as a gust of wind came, God whispered a dear truth into my soul.
My Spirit can blow the dirt and junk off the balcony, but you have to do some work, also. This is a two way relationship, and if you don’t clean your balcony, your house will get dirty too.
I looked and realized the reason our house gets dirty so quickly is because we have piles of leaves in the corners by our door that we don’t bother to clean. The mat in front of our door looked clean, but once I picked it up, what appeared like harmless dirt was actually dead bugs and broken twigs. Tiny pieces of glass and torn pieces of paper went flying in the wind. Glass that cuts deep and words on paper that cut deeper were gone with the fierce gust of the Spirit.
I have been reminded a lot lately about how continual sanctification and growth in God does not happen just when I sit at the table and wait for someone to feed me. I have to pick up my fork, scoop the food onto my plate, and feed myself. All I have in Christ is provided at His table of feast and abundance; it is my responsibility to sit down and eat.
So then, my beloved…work out your salvation with fear and trembling… -Philippians 2:12
To work out salvation translates from the original Greek of “to fashion or render one fit for a thing.” As a daughter of the King, He has made it my responsibility to work out my salvation, to cultivate sanctification. The King does not have children who are lazy and talk without acting, but He has children who work hard and act without needing to talk.
If I am faithful to work out my salvation, continually cultivating sanctification and walking by the Spirit, then I will not carry out the desire for what is forbidden in my flesh (Galatians 5:16). My balcony will stay clean, and my home won’t be full of dirt and mire, constantly needing to be swept.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you think it looks like to work out your salvation? How are you doing in regards to that? Are you being consistent to keep your house clean so that your balcony reflects that which is within?