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Recently our youngest daughter, Ally, visited us for a few weeks between semesters at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. Since moving to LA in January 2013, she had only been home once before, so this was a rare treat.
Abby, our oldest daughter, attends Indiana University which is only about 30 minutes north of our Southern Indiana home, so we are blessed to see her on a regular basis.
Both girls being home from college brought back many wonderful memories. Hearing their laughter coming from their bedrooms warmed my heart…and then I walked over to drop off their clean laundry, and my heart wasn’t quite as warm.
Their rooms looked like a tornado had blown through, more than once! That, too, brought back some memories of my girls and their messy rooms growing up–especially one particular time…
As I carried another load of dirty clothes to the laundry room in our Texas home, I glanced inside Abby’s and Allyson’s rooms.
It was scary. Barbie dolls everywhere. Clothes and shoes all over the floor. Dresser drawers halfway open, with clothes spilling out of them. Candy wrappers scattered across their rooms. Ultimatium time.
“OK, here’s the deal,” I said to the girls, then ages 7 and 5. “You either clean up your rooms, or we’re not going swimming today. That’s final. Got it?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Abby said, marching off to her room.
Allyson said nothing, following her older sister.
I finished cleaning up the kitchen while Abby and Allyson worked on their rooms.
A few minutes later, Allyson bounded into the kitchen with an important announcement.
“I’m finished!” she said, modeling her orange and yellow bathing suit.
“Finished with what?” I asked.
“Finished getting ready.”
“Finished getting ready for what?”
"To go swimming,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“Is your room clean?” I asked.
“Uh huh,” she said, “come see.”
To my amazement, it looked really clean. The dresser drawers were shut all the way. The clothes were put away. The shoes were put away. Even the Barbie dolls were gone. I could actually see the carpet.
Just as I was about to congratulate Allyson on her clean room, she walked in front of her miniature recliner that sat in the corner of her room and said, “Just don’t look behind the chair.”
Guilt was written all over her rosy little cheeks.
Playing along, I innocently asked, “Why not?”
“Just don’t,” she said, defensively.
I had no choice. I had to look behind the recliner, and when I did, I saw a pile of clothes, shoes, Barbie dolls and candy wrappers. She was caught, and she knew it.
Meanwhile, Abby had truly cleaned her room and was able to watch cartoons while Allyson had to put away the pile of stuff stacked behind her recliner.
She whined and whimpered as she folded clothing, threw out trash, and put away dolls. Her little act of disobedience had cost us an hour of pool time. She was sorry, but being sorry couldn’t get her back that hour she had lost. It was a good lesson for her, and a good lesson for me.
I thought about how many times in my life I had gone before the Father and said, “I’m finished cleaning up. Come and see, but just don’t look behind that chair in the far corner of my heart.”
Just like Allyson thought she could fool me, I thought I could fool God. And, just as Allyson’s delayed obedience had cost her time at the pool, mine had kept me from walking in the fullness of God.
But, there was one difference: I couldn’t get that hour of pool time back for Allyson, but God could restore the time that I had wasted in disobedience. And that’s exactly what he has done in my life.
Every time I pull the old, “don’t look behind the chair” routine, God just waits for me to repent, and then he puts me back on the right path as if I’d never missed a step. That’s because he is so merciful and good.
He will do the same for you. So, go ahead. Quit hiding those stinky, dirty, trashy and cluttered items from behind that chair in the corner of your heart, and start clean today. God’s waiting.
Pray this with me: “Lord, I am tired of hiding things from you. This very day, I give all of my heart to you–even the mess behind the chair in the corner of my heart. I ask that you help me move forward with you in total obedience and integrity. I love you, God, and I’m excited about my future. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.”
Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, with more than 60 books and 1,000 articles for newspapers and magazines to her name. She was won several SELAH Awards (best children’s book and book of the year for God Knows You in 2014 and best children’s book for My Big Book of Prayers in 2012), and her book Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was named a Family Christian Bookstores Premiere Pick in 2006. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.
Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff. They have two college-aged daughters, Abby and Allyson, as well as a small petting zoo. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys cheering on the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies and the LA Kings. Find out more about Michelle at her website.