I pride myself on being a neat house keeper.
But there is one area in my house that I am NOT good at keeping clean. My refrigerator.
Dustin, my husband, prides himself on being a ‘relaxed’ house keeper. In other words, he doesn’t care as much. And yes, that has produced lots of marital strife over the last 8.5 years. =)
But even my ‘relaxed’ husband finds my refrigerator, well, disgusting. I have found him many times taking containers out, sniffing it, gagging, then putting it down the disposal. God bless him.
I don’t know what it is about it. I just hate cleaning it out. Sometimes I wont even want to cook because I know I will have to open the fridge! This really is a problem… and people are reading this…!
Well, a couple of days ago I was looking for a rubber maid container but couldn’t find any. I looked in the dishwasher, it was empty. I started to blame it on the kids, they sometimes use them in the bath and stuff. But I knew they couldn’t have all 25 of them. I slowly turned towards the dreaded fridge… I opened the door… Sure enough, 25 nights worth of left overs crammed on the shelves one on top of each other. I quickly closed the door and ran screaming out of the now smelly kitchen.
Not really, but almost.
As I was standing there starring into my gross fridge a thought came to me. Anywhere, but here. I’ll clean anything but not my fridge. I’ll organize anything, just not that. You can go anywhere in my house, but there. It’s so easy to hide. So easy to ignore.
That is, until I need a rubber maid container.
Then I asked myself, what in my life do I treat like my refrigerator?
I thought of the sin in my life…. and that lead me to think of my regrets.
Those are the areas of my life that I don’t really like to talk about. I don’t want to go there and I definitely don’t want you going there with me. But what about God? Do I let Him go there? How? How do you take God to those places? I don’t know.
Since I already told you one big secret of mine, I might as well tell you another. When I think of regrets, there are many that come to mind. One in particular…
Several years ago I was a leader in the youth group. Somehow I was either given the responsibility or simply took it upon myself to make sure every girl who came through the doors of that place was not only there to focus on Jesus, but was also dressed in a way that would allow the guys to focus on Jesus too. It was a holy calling and one that I did not take lightly or ignore at any cost. And oh, how costly.
During that time as I carried out my noble duty, I’m sure I had ‘discussions’ with many of those young girls. In my self-righteousness all I could see was how right I was and how wrong they were. All I saw was the outward appearance, the spaghetti-straps, shirts too low, too much thigh. Oops, was that some belly I just saw? I was so busy policing there wasn’t even a chance for ministering to take place.
At one point I became so frustrated. What about the RULES!!!! Why can’t they just follow the RULES!!! One Friday night I unleashed my frustration on one unsuspecting young lady. I told her she had to leave. You can’t be here dressed like that. Don’t come if you can’t follow the rules. Unfortunately, that was the one rule she chose to follow. She never came back.
You did the right thing, I was told. She CAN’T be here dressed like that. Don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault.
But it was my fault. I do feel bad. It wasn’t right. Why did it have to be that way?
What had happened to grace? It had been replaced with my self-righteousness. Why was that ok? To this very day I regret what took place. I regret that because I thought I was better than her, I was more holy because I was more modest, she left and never came back.
What if I would have tried to have a conversation with her, asked her questions, showed her grace, showed her how Jesus loves? Would things have been different?
That’s the hard thing about regrets. The what if’s. Because we will never know.
I would love to tell her that I’m sorry. That I was wrong, so wrong. I would ask her to forgive me.
There are more rubber maid containers that I could open and share with you. A lot of them much smellier, a lot sadder. But instead how about I leave you with a more pleasant thought?
The only way I know how to approach my regrets is through the redeeming grace of God. We all have those smelly places in our lives that are so much easier to keep hidden behind tightly sealed doors. We like to polish the door of our lives and make the stainless steel finish shine. We hang pretty magnets on the outside to distract others from what’s really inside. We come down hard on the ones who accidentally leave theirs open. Close it! Quick! Don’t you know better?!?
That’s not grace. Even if we say it with a smile.
I’m not sure I spoke with a smile that night. But I know for a fact that I did not show her grace. I did not approach her as our Redeemer would have. No one can really say how Christ would have handled that particular instance, but I know it would have been different. Because what we see in the gospels each time He dealt with people is always in direct opposition to how we would have handled them. He TOUCHED the leper, He healed on the SABBATH, He ATE with SINNERS, He DEFENDED and FORGAVE the the prostitute. His followers were those who were the worst kind of sinner. He was gentle with them, compassionate, forgiving. Instead it was the ‘holy’ ones he was hard on.
So how does this redeeming grace work? I’m obviously no scholar. Everything that I say has been said before by others much smarter than I and with a lot more (successful) experience. So with that said…. This is how I see it:
It’s like this, if I hadn’t left that smelly container of moldy whatever in the fridge. I would have never experienced the sweetness of watching my husband clean it out for me. And if I had not told you about my gross fridge and risked you never wanting to come over to my house again, then you would have never known how sweet my husband can be… when he wants to anyway!
Now apply that to our sin/regrets (smelly rubber maid containers) and our great God (Dustin – oh, wont he love this one!)
Because He has lavished His grace on us, we have the freedom to then grant others grace too. Without sin, we would never have the opportunity to experience true grace. How neat of God to use something so terrible to in the end, bring Himself glory. Mind blowing.
I wish I could tell you that my figurative refrigerator is always kept clean. But like my literal one, it’s not. And I wish that every time I needed to extend grace to someone I would. But I don’t. I look forward to the day when I wont even need a refrigerator and when His work will be completed in me.