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The holiday classic “It’s a wonderful life” pulls at our heart strings each Christmas. We can identify with the life problems and the characters involved. The crisis at the family operated savings and loan mushroomed with the arrival of the bank examiner. The audit of the books revealed missing cash. If the books don’t balance every penny must be accounted for!
Many times we feel like our entire life is under the scrutiny of an audit. Do we add up? Have the stresses of life subtracted from our plus column? In a ledger do we show up in the red or in the black? It can be very unsettling to imagine the books opened for inspection!
A good auditor uncovers even small errors, if recorded intentionally or in carelessness. If we were to audit the open books of others, what would we find?… (Love) “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5 NAS).” The accounts would balance; and no errors would be found! In love we would not keep track, or take into account any errors against us! Love not only looks over errors; it covers them up! “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8 NAS).” Dust off the books and begin a new chapter today!
We lived contentedly in our home for many years, and raised our children there. Now, I anxiously adjusted to the “empty nest.” As I looked around me, I decided it would be the perfect time to make some changes. The drab house cried out for redecorating, not just a fresh coat of paint! Where would I start? I already felt overwhelmed, and came very close to changing my mind. No, I must get started. I’d just take one step at a time. First I would have to choose an interior decorator. I decided to let my “fingers do the walking” through the Yellow Pages. To my amazement our small city had many to select from. Could I place this project in the hands of someone that I picked out of a phone book? No, I needed to ask around and see who our friends and neighbors used. My confidence began to grow. Soon, I made my decision based on three recommendations for the same man. If they trusted him, I could too.
I called and made an appointment for the following Monday morning at 10am. That would be a good time to make a fresh start. All week I walked back and forth through my house, while looking, really looking all around me. Now, I felt nervous about the arrival of Monday. Maybe I have bit off more than I can chew. I realized that there would be much more work needed than I first thought. I should form a plan of action, and decide on my priorities. I felt sure that the best place to start would be my front door entrance. It looked so dark and dreary. Improvements there would give visitors a good first impression. Yes, we will start there; next we’d move on to the living room and den. The other areas of the house would be done last.
Sunday afternoon I ran around the house like a chicken with her head cut off! I cleared clutter, I scrubbed, and I polished. I did not want the interior decorator to find things out of place or think of me as a bad housekeeper! The following morning he arrived about ten minutes early. I liked that! He seemed eager to get started. He warmly shook my hand, and a smile drew me to him instantly. I would feel comfortable with him in my home. I gave the ten cent tour, chattering all the while. Why do I do that? I showed him my list of priorities, as he quietly jotted down information in a small note pad. He lifted his head, with his eyes meeting mine and said “We will start in the basement; then we will do all of the closets.”
What? You have got to be kidding! Nobody sees them; that is where I put things away out of sight. That would be a waste of time and money! Is there time to back out? I have not signed any contract. He read my face like a book, gently put his hand on my shoulder, and said “Trust me. I know what I am doing.” I did not feel fully convinced. I’ve come this far, I might as well get started. If things don’t work out, I can always replace Him. I asked him when he could start, expecting him to place me at the bottom of a long waiting list. He started to roll up his sleeves and said “Right now.” Wow! I had no idea things would move so fast. He pointed toward the basement and I slowly moved forward. He asked me to bring large trash bags for getting rid of unwanted things. I opened the door to the basement and turned on the light. I glanced down the long set of stairs and wanted to bolt the door and run! The sprawling mess down there looked like a disaster zone! For years when I couldn’t decide what to do with something, or when I couldn’t bear to part with it, it would be stashed in the basement. Now, it caught up with me; and I felt humiliated. He seemed to sense my embarrassment, chuckled and said “I won’t see anything that I have not seen before!”As soon as we were down in the cellar he opened windows, and turned on all of the lights. He asked me to open the door to our back entrance. I knew it would be a dirty job; but I had no idea what lay ahead. Useless junk towered above me, stacked all the way up to the ceiling. He found piles crammed between the rafters! The smell of mold and mildew made it difficult to breathe. We began to inch our way around, sorting and sorting…discard, keep, or save. Sorting went on and on. The strange thing is what I thought should be buried, he said should be saved! He told me to carry many things out into the light, in the sunshine. He assured me sunshine would make them fresh and fragrant again. I still did not see much promise in what he set aside for later use. The work in the basement took all week. I wanted to shout hallelujah when he said “Time to go back upstairs.” I took one last glance around. I sure had hated to start there; but I felt at peace with a job well done.
Upstairs he asked for a glass of fresh cool water, before we began to organize the closets. It felt good to have the chance to do such a simple thing for him. He did so much for me. We made it through the week to Friday; and the basement turned out to be a really big job. He looked in each closet, then took more notes, and said he looked forward to seeing me at daybreak next Monday. He said the best work can be accomplished when started bright and early.
I did not feel as stressed when we began again. I now knew what to expect. In closet after closet we followed the same sorting routine: discard, keep, or share. It seemed easier each day to follow his instructions. Weeks turned into months, as we moved from room to room. We sorted; we cleaned; and we painted. Our last work area would be the front door entrance, where I planned to begin! I thought we were finished and prepared to discuss his final fees, and grab my check book. He said, “Now you have a lovely remodeled house. Let’s make it a home!” He said what we would now be using were the things we set aside to be saved, from the basement and closets. No, how can I make you understand? I don’t want them! I don’t even like looking at them! That is why I hid them in the basement and closets!
He kept busy boxing things up to use. I had no idea what he planned to do. I just kind of stood by in a daze. Suddenly, he turned and explained very patiently. When people come into our homes, they should be able to relax, and be themselves. They are not perfect; they have their faults and problems. If I hide mine away, stash all the imperfections, they will not feel at ease. They would not feel at home. He placed my hidden items in open sight, all around the house. It seemed so strange, as if I just took a deep breath of fresh air! My life felt open and free! Things were no longer hidden! Before leaving he said the only final suggestions he could make would be simple and inexpensive. I liked that! He said to add as much natural sunlight and fresh air as possible. People would need that. Other things he encouraged me to do included fresh flowers arrangements when ever possible, and using soft throw pillows in sitting areas. They would be a comfy treat for my guests! His last idea came as another surprise. He urged me to spend more time around the kitchen table with my company. The feeling of closeness while enjoying simple foods and beverages would be special. Those times would be cherished; and we could more easily share those things we try to hide. I highly recommend this interior decorator, JESUS! He created all things. (Colossians 1:16) If He could decorate our world, He can redecorate our lives! He can be reached anytime of day or night at this number: J-O-H-N- 3:16
We open wide thankful hearts when we receive the Lord’s undeserved blessings. In those exciting times we find it easy to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. Do we selfishly limit our boundaries? Maybe we need to develop a “constant thanksgiving plan” in all circumstances.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJ).” Unlimited thanksgiving will stretch us and also offers the potential of a greatly expanded witness. To be thankful in everything is certainly not a normal response! The key is to remember we are not instructed to thank God for everything, but in everything. Evil and hardship we face are not the source of thankfulness; and we face them with inner turmoil. In everything we can give thanks for God’s faithfulness and love! Maybe we can positively influence others to see God’s tender hand in everything. The sky is the limit!