Dustpan devotional

It is a hot Saturday afternoon, and I invade their bedroom like the wind before a storm. How did it get so messy, after I just decluttered it a month ago? I wade through dirty laundry, picture books, discarded game pieces and noisy toys with flashing lights gone silent from dead batteries. Two fans have fallen out of windows and lie broken. I arm myself with plastic garbage bags, broom, a sigh of resignation.

I come upon a dirty little pink purse Rosy, my girly girl, has played with since she was a babe. This is where it gets hard. She has about a dozen purses, way too many for a small girl. But choosing which beloved ones to throw or give away? Tough for a tender mother's heart! This one has permanent marker all over it, and I know it has to go. But inside are white feathers she saved from angels wings she wore in a Christmas pageant 2 years ago. I hear the distant thumping of some tribal drum of childhood, as if I am intruder on the sacred, tearing down some structure of the child's heart as I toss things willy-nilly. I save the feathers, toss the purse.

I pause, pray, sigh, continue.

Everything left in this room is "good". Everything works, I've already sorted through it once or twice. There are no broken toys, no missing pieces, no bad authors...just worn out batteries and too much of a good thing. This is where it gets difficult...sorting out what matters from what is good. Dr. Suess: good. But I'd rather keep "Green Eggs and Ham" than "Oh, the Places You Will Go!"

It's so in my spiritual life, too. I'm 33, and I've been on this path for years. Sometimes I've wandered around in the woods, of course. But as you keep going over the same verses, praying over the same faults, working on the same character flaws, you begin to get down to the fine-tooth comb of life. Sorting sometimes becomes a matter of discerning between the good and the significant. I feel this way often as I prioritize in the arena of family life. Activities for the children - good or significant? Ways we spend our time or money - good or significant?

Our longing for something real, something meaningful, can be so intense at times. Even surrounded by our families, we can feel like we're just jumping through the hoops of our day. Mealtimes, bathtimes, bedtimes- check, check, check. But have we connected on a spiritual, relational level with any of these people buzzing around us today? I heard an analogy of the fish who hears about this amazing thing called water and swims all over the lake asking everyone he meets, "Where's the water? Have you seen the water?" It is as invisible to him as the air we breathe is to us. Perhaps it is so with God. We search all our lives for a meaningful connection with God, and in the vast empty void of the universe, we feel isolated and alone, as if He is never quite present with us. But the reason we can't see Him is because He is behind, above, around, and within. He is the very air we breathe. 

I trust that, as I continue to comb through our home and lives with an increasingly sharper focus, the real and significant will shine out, like the real quarters that caught the sunlight as they were about to make their way into the dustpan along with plastic coins from a Melissa & Doug money set. We, too, are made of silver, and we live in the refiner's fire, continually being skimmed of the dross and growing more and more brilliant and beautiful with each passing day lived out under His loving attention.
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. (Malachi 3:2-3)
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