10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
One of my favorite authors is Don Aslett, who has written dozens of books about cleaning, de-cluttering and organization. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’ve learned a lot from him about being neater. In one of his books he quoted a woman who made a point that I think contains a lot of truth. She said that almost all of the messes in the world are made by men and children, and women wind up cleaning up 95% of them. I’ve never done a formal study, but if I had to guess, I’d say this statistic is pretty close to correct. Can I get an “amen” here, ladies?
I’ve come to the conclusion that “how to clean up a mess” is one of the most important skills we can teach to our children — because life is certainly full of messes. If you spill something, wipe it up. Take your dishes to the sink. Pick up after yourself. Leave the room better than you found it. That’s what it means to clean up our physical messes. Really, I can’t imagine a more important lesson that we could teach our little ones.
But more importantly, we all need to learn to clean up the non-physical messes we make in our lives and to pass this skill on to our children.
Sometimes we make financial messes through poor planning and impulsive spending. Sometimes we make messes of our relationships through thoughtlessness and selfishness. And very often we make spiritual messes through sin, sloth, and neglect. In each situation, the only proper recourse is to accept full responsibility for the havoc we’ve caused. Only then can we begin to make things right.
So let’s begin to clean up our messes and teach our children to clean up theirs. Those who never face the consequences of their actions tend to bring about one bad situation after another. But cleaning up the messes we make is the Christian thing to do.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the dogs in the Preacher’s yard are glad this week for the beautiful weather.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).