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, “Country Preacher Dad”
When you’ve been at a country church for a quarter-century, the kids who were babies when you first arrived become married people with babies. I’ve had a lot of young couples come to talk to me about marriage and living the married life. One thing I always tell them is, “You’re going to be surprised. The material things you think are going to make your home a happy home are not the ones you would expect.”
Most young husbands are excited about having things like a big flat-screen TV or a surround-sound system. And most young brides are excited about big diamonds in their engagement rings and beautiful furniture. But I’ve been watching this thing for a long time. The items that make the most happiness in a house are connected to the plumbing system. You can live in great contentment without the newest electronic gadgets or the most opulent decorative items, but face it—it the toilet is overflowing, it’s not going to be a happy morning. One of the few times I’ve seen my wife shed tears (short of some tragedy) was when the element in our old water heater burned out for the kajillionth time when she was trying to get bathed for a Ladies’ Retreat. Families can live happily for decades without a Blue-Ray DVD player, but let the washing machine “give up the ghost” and, friends, you’ve got a sad situation on your hands. If you want to have a happy home, think “plumbing” not “platinum”.
But once you get all the major appliances working, what if you are still unhappy? Our friend from last week, Fay Inchfawn has a bit to say about that:
Within my House
First, there’s the entrance, narrow,
and so small,
The hat-stand seems to fill the tiny hall;
That staircase, too, has such an awkward
The carpet rucks, and rises up on end!
Then, all the rooms are cramped and close
And there’s a musty smell in rainy weather.
Yes, and it makes the daily work go hard
To have the only tap across a yard.
These creaking doors, these draughts, this
Would try, I think, the temper of a saint,
How often had I railed against these
With envies, and with bitter murmurings
For spacious rooms, and sunny garden
Until one day,
Washing the breakfast dishes, so I think,
I paused a moment in my work to pray;
And then and there
All life seemed suddenly made new and
For, like the Psalmist’s dove among the
(Those endless pots, that filled the tiny
My spirit found her wings.
“Lord” (thus I prayed), “it matters not
That my poor home is ill-arranged and
I, not the house, am straitened; Lord,
Enlarge my foolish heart, that by-and-by
I may look up with such a radiant face
Thou shalt have glory even in this place.
And when I trip, or stumble unawares
In carrying water up these awkward stairs,
Then keep me sweet, and teach me day
To tread with patience Thy appointed
As for the house, Lord, let it be my part
To walk within it with a perfect heart.”
I think that Mrs. Inchfawn hit the nail on the head this week. Sometimes when we’re “crossways and crooked” with the world, the problem isn’t with our surroundings but with our hearts. Dear mamas, this week let’s all pray the prayer of the Psalmist: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Then our homes will be more lovely—both inside and out!
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is in the middle of his 25th year of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 18) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher still can tell you how to find a free online file of the poems of Fay Inchfawn, if you’re interested.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.