Getting Cleaned Up
Karen Ehman

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

"Oh Jenny," I quipped to my friend. "You totally crack me up! All right then, we'll see you next week."

With that, the expectant mom grabbed her purse and her Bible, gave me a quick hug, and dashed out the door. She'd just announced to our Bible study group that her mother-in-law was coming to town for a few days and would be arriving later that night. Grandma was making the trip in order to assist her daughter-in-law in deep-cleaning her house. The nearly belly-busting mom was succumbing to what is fondly referred to as the 'nesting urge:' that instinctive compulsion moms have just prior to delivery or right before that wonderful trip to bring their waiting child home from the adoption agency.

What gave me a chuckle that fall afternoon was what Jenny was actually headed home to do before her hubby's mom came to town. Was it to prepare a hot supper or make room in a child's bedroom for grandma's suitcase and such?

Nope. Jenny was speeding home so she could do one thing.

Clean her house.

Yep, clean her house. Just before her house-cleaning help arrived. She said she didn't want to be embarrassed by any killer dust bunnies or cowering cobwebs that just might be lurking somewhere grandma might spy them. So she was going to 'surface-shine' as much as she could before her mother-in-law pulled out the big guns…uh…er…vacuums and mops…to really tackle the hard-core, deep-cleaning.

Perhaps we've all done something similar; flossed our teeth for the first time in months—right before our bi-annual hygienist's appointment at the dentist's office. Or clipped our toenails and softened our heels—yep, the night before redeeming a pedicure coupon given to us as a birthday surprise from a friend. Something in us desperately doesn't want others to know just how dirty we actually let things get in our lives.

And this isn't just a matter of house-cleaning and hygiene. We humans do this another way; and on a grander scale.

An innate urge asserts we must somehow "clean up our act" before we can come to Jesus. We feel it when we meet Him for the first time. Our bulky baggage of sin burdens us down. So we try to "clean up our act" so we can then come to Him. But as that contemplative, shepherd-turned-psalmist David declared in today's key verse, we need not attempt to spit-shine our own hearts, but rather must plead "Create in me a clean heart O God."

Yes, we do the pleading.

He does the cleaning.

Even those of us who have walked with Him for years sometimes surmise, when wading in the swamp of our sin, that we too must surface-clean the tarnish so very hard before He will ever want to use us again.

But just one action is needed. We must come to the Cleaner; the only spirit-sanitizer there is. And we must beckon Him; imploring our Savior to create in us a clean heart and renew our spirits so we may serve Him fully.

Only then will the dust-bunnies of darkness that oft-times shatter our souls be swept away completely so a renewed spirit can truly shine.

What a wonderful and spiritually effective way to be taken to the cleaners!

Dear Lord, may I come to You, tarnish and all, trusting only in Your ability to make my heart clean. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

For a list of ten heart-sanitizing scriptures and a “Clean Heart” themed giveaway, visit Karen’s blog

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

First Love: Karen’s keynote message from She Speaks 2010 (on DVD) by Karen Ehman

Application Steps:
Make a list of the habitual struggles you have in relation to the condition of your heart. Take your list and get alone with God. Ask Him in prayer to clean you up from the inside out and show you ways to replace your old thinking about these topics with His life-changing truths.

Use an online Bible verse-locater such as to search by keyword for verses that relate to your struggles. Write these truths on a different list. Now, tear the first list up and place the second one in a place you will see it often—on your bathroom mirror, office desk or car dashboard. Let these words of truth penetrate your soul when you are tempted to revert back to your old ways of thinking.

When have I tried to "clean up my act" on my own? Was it successful or long-lasting? What could I do different this time in light of the words of today's key verse?

Power Verses:
Psalm 66:17-19, "I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer." (NIV)

Psalm 36:5, "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." (NIV)
© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Karen said...

Wow, thank the Holy Spirit for this one! At the perfect time, the Holy Spirit helps us/me!!!

Thank you for being a vessel!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!! I know that God is speaking to me.. so, I am setting about to clean up my act, and to turn it all over to him, to clean me through and through!! God knows my needs, my struggles, and yes, the messes in my life... And.. he's here to help! Thank you God!!

Blogger Eileen said...

Beautiful! And so very true! I have to say that I am guilty of flossing my teeth for the first time in ?...just before going to the dentist. But the thing is, I don't fool the cleaner. They know. And we don't fool THE CLEANER! He knows us so well. Great post.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I decided last night to set my alarm a little earlier and commit to having quiet time with God at the beginning of each day instead of the end. I googled women's devotions, and found! God is so good and always on time! Thanks for helping me begin my day the best way...with truth from the Living Word!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup everytime i think my mother n law or anyone i really respect i do the omg this house needs cleaned.. i hate about me wish i would just keep it up. I wish i would just keep up the inside of heart clean too..............

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just when I was going to go to the upstairs part of the house to clean! Ha..and I've always called it the "upper room" as I worship in the process. Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous teresa said...

I would also like to thank the Holy Spirit for this cleaning class. I also am in the process of cleaning my body (INSIDE) by refraing from cigarettes!! I will read and reread these scriptures every day!!!!! The joy of deliverance keeps me going! May GOD bless you!

Blogger Dee White said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Dee White said...

So thankful for Proverbs 31 Ministries because it links us to women of God like you. I am starting a stay at home moms group and am going to share your site and thoughts with the girls. I love it! Thank you!

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