Words of Hope: Clean Heart

Dad’s nickname around the house was Norman Neat or sometimes Matt Ticulous. He loved it clean, but he also loved having people over, which caused some tension for him. I like it neat as well. My house was full of people for the holidays. As I was cleaning up the extra bedding, dishes, and crumbs on the floor, I thought, life is indeed messy. Mom and Dad had hundreds of people stay with them through the years–many beautiful and wonderful people who are now part of the extended Crowell Family. When I want to be irritated by the extra mess, I remember my Mom tirelessly cleaning our home.

One of the passages in scripture I think of often in my mind’s eye is Jesus spending so much time in Capernaum. I read about it one day because I wondered about Jesus spending so much time there.

It was one of the most backwater towns in the region. It was considered unsanitary, provincial, and uncouth. Did the Son of God sit in the dirt among the people there? Homes get messy with people, and lives get messy as well. I think Jesus wanted to show that preoccupation with dirt and outside mess is not as important as living lives with pure hearts. When I want to get frustrated by the exterior messiness of many people in the home, Jesus reminds me to spend time working on my interior spirit. Dishes, floors, and bathrooms can easily be cleaned, but a consistently messy life filled with tension, judgment, bitterness, and dislike takes more work.

I want to do the interior work of a clean inner life with God and with my family. I appreciate that Dad desired to love people more than he loved a perfectly spotless home. I am thankful Dad wanted a pure heart above all.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” – Psalm 51

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