Circumstances have changed and cleaning out our home is no longer in the far off future. It needs to be done now! We knew this deadline would eventually come and we will clean up our act. The projects and stuff that accumulated over the last 30-plus years needs to be dwelt with in the next several months. Let’s just say those ‘chickens have come home to roost!’ And they need a place to stay!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Jesus’ words found in Matthew 23:25-28] 1
Here in SoFlo, papers need to be reviewed, and either filed or shredded. If it doesn’t work or is threadbare, out it goes. Just saying that makes it sound quick and easy. But most of the time, cleaning out, it is a long and tedious process.
On top of it the Sunshine State’s summer is heating up, and it is taking a toll on my gardening. June, July, and August is a gardener’s “winter” here. Most plants work only at surviving the South Florida summer or going to seed. The other day, as I worked my way around the plants that were left, I pulled out the dying zucchini.
After composting it, I checked my pole beans for the last of the season’s beans. I noticed white spots and patches on many of the leaves. It could be any number of pests, mildew, or fungus affecting beans. To tell you the truth, I have trouble keeping track of all the diseases and pests that ravage plants in South Florida. Even though I’m not sure what it is, I knew I had to get the infected leaves off the plants. Otherwise, they would infect everything in the garden including the beans that were still on the vine.
Clipping the leaves off and putting them in a trash pail gave me time to think. Yes, the damaged leaves have to go in the trash, otherwise my compost would get infected too. Of course, my first thoughts were a complaint about how hot and tedious the work was! As I continued to clip, my thoughts meandered to how similar this task was to cleaning out my home. Instead I was cleaning out the vines. For me, both tasks are frustrating and boring, but necessary in my garden and life, right now.
Then my mind wandered to our country’s leadership. As the news out of Washington D.C. becomes darker and more distressing every day, I realized there is another tedious task that rests on the shoulders of “we the people.2” It is up to us to clean out that mess, too.
But how do we do that? I thought. To get rid of the infected leaves, I have to look through all the leaves, evaluate them, and determine if they stay or go. Once the decision is made, it takes cutting off those leaves one at a time.
“Lord,” I prayed, “if we cut out all the lazy, greedy, corrupt people in our leadership, there won’t be much left of our national and local governments. It will look like these poor bean plants. A skeleton with bright green leaves scattered throughout the frame carrying on the work of living.”
I felt the nudge. Maybethat is what you need? Go back to a framework. Remove the disease and what is not working.
The Lord got me thinking back in the mid-1990s. At that time, I worked in the Solid Waste Department for a local government. The Commission was considering contracting out their water and wastewater services. The employees of the Utilities Department made a plea to the commissioners, asking for the chance to run the utility with a business/government model.
After receiving the Commissioner’s approval, the staff streamlined their processes and downsized. This meant evaluating everything they did on a day-to-day basis. Just like looking through those leaves. They had to get rid of anything that did not work. Many of the staff had to take on additional duties as people left to take other jobs or retired. After a tough couple of years, it worked, and the utility became profitable. Because of their success, leadership integrated the Solid Waste Department into the Utilities Department and applied the model to both departments to strengthen and support similar workloads.
It was a tough transition. I ended up in a new job; I did not have experience in, and I didn’t like it at first. But, as we all “cleaned up our acts,” we learned a lot about true team work. Not the fluffy “team” thing in popular culture. Forget that! Real old-fashioned teamwork where you are working to keep your job and those of your colleagues. This includes working for the customer’s benefit, not our own benefit. It was an eye-opening few years for sure! It took cleaning out the inside of our cup and dish (our government) as well as the outside to bless the people we serve.
Just like cleaning up my home, cleaning up our government won’t be easy or fun. But, both massive jobs need to be done. I am not looking forward to the deep cuts needed in both jobs, but I know from experience the work and changes will be worth it as long as we keep God in our decisions and actions. He is faithful to lead us as we make the tough decisions.
Please Pray with me:
Lord God, Lord of Hosts, thank you for opening our eyes to the surrounding situation. We now see the mess our complacency has created. Forgive us our sins as we first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Today, we seek Your wisdom and guidance to make wise choices as we take action in cleaning out our homes, thoughts, communities, and countries. Thank you for your ever present helpand protection as we walk in faith and shine Your light in the darkness. Lord, we give You all the glory and honor in these dark days. In Yeshua’s name, amen. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.
May God bless and guide you today step by step,
1All scripture is from the New King James Version: Prophecy Study Bible New King James Version, Editor John C. Hagee © 1997 by Thomas Nelson, a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.
2The Declaration of Independence Preamble (United States of America)
3 Please, remember I am not a theologian! This is from my own private discussions with the Lord, study, and experiences. You may see something I do not. That is okay. Let the Lord lead you. Ask Him questions and discuss this with Him. He is faithful to lead and guide us. Just like you, I am searching for wisdom and understanding. God Bless.