After the cord on our 12 year old clunky vacuum cleaner began fraying, we decided to purchase a new bagless upright. Breaking it in on our living room carpet, the clear receptacle quickly filled, swirling with dirt and black dog fur. Finishing the room, I thought, "I'll just go ahead and do our bedroom where the dog sleeps." In no time the canister was full again. Emptying the bin this time, I thought, "I might as well just do the other two bedrooms."
As I rolled the new vacuum down the hall, glancing at the old one, I paused, wondering where this sudden motivation was coming from. (I am sure my wife was wondering the same thing). Immediately, this thought came to mind: The clear receptacle on the new vacuum afforded me the luxury of instantly seeing accumulation of dirt and provided an easy way to remove it. The old cleaner, however, was a different story. The receptacle for the dirt was a paper bag hidden on the inside. This meant that every time I vacuumed, I literally carried around all the previous accumulation: Fresh dirt just landed on top of old dirt. When the bag was finally full, you faced the unpleasant task of opening up the dusty chamber, removing the bag (hopefully without squeezing it), and carefully attaching a new one.
Reflecting on my faith journey, it occurred to me that sometimes I am like the old vacuum cleaner. When I choose to ignore God's Word in Proverbs 4:23, dirt begins to accumulate. If I continue to ignore that instruction, sadly the fresh dirt of irritation and frustration lands on top of the old dirt of offenses and unforgiveness, filling the hidden chambers of my heart. It is not a pretty sight.
God's invitation to me, I believe, is to live life more like that new vacuum: to walk with a transparent heart daily inviting the Holy Spirit to "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT). Ultimately it means living a life that extends beyond keeping short accounts with God to keeping current accounts with God.
So, how is it with your soul? Perhaps you've been carrying around accumulated "stuff" hidden on the inside. God invites us to accept His invitation in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (NRSV). Receive the gift of His Spirit to vigilantly guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and keep current accounts with Him (Psalm 32:1-11). You will experience the joy of unhindered and uncluttered intimacy with God who relentlessly loves you!