Not What I Expected

I anticipated them coming to visit for some time.  We had all worked together as nurses in the ICU when I lived in Northern California.  We were planning to have five days together at my parent’s beach house.  Even better, it was all worked out with my husband and children’s schedules.  I was going down a day early to relax, and hopefully write.  What a luxury!  I was beside myself with anticipation.  I couldn’t wait to see my friends, but I so looked forward to that day alone before they arrived.

After cleaning my house and getting family settled and ready for my absence, I drove 4 hours to the beach house.  Around 9 pm, exhausted, I finally walked through the door.

I was greeted by the most horrid odor I had ever smelled in my life–that’s a pretty bold statement coming from someone whose been a mom and a nurse!  It was like a dead mouse or rotten potatoes, but much worse!!

I went through the standard routines of turning all the breakers on, mainly so I could see and hopefully figure out where that smell was coming from.  As I opened the refrigerator to empty my travel cooler, I discovered the culprit.  That was it!!  The last ones in the house had accidentally flipped the breaker switch and turned the refrigerator off with the rest of the house.  It had been brewing in the heat for three weeks.  The freezer was full of decaying meat, and so on.  You get it.

I cleaned for hours.  Went to bed at 2 am, woke up at 6 am and cleaned again.  The smell wasn’t budging, so I mixed pure bleach with hot water and poured it through all the vents and lines in the refrigerator.  Finally, something was helping.  Bleach was a miracle worker!

Needless to say, my relaxing day I had planned was out of the question!  I pulled huge bags of trash into a huge trash can.  I scrubbed.  I shop vacuumed.  I hosed.  I bleached.  I bought air fresheners and candles.  The house never smelled better!  The refrigerator sparkled it was so clean!  But that smell, it was going to take some time for that to dissipate.

On my way to the store for the second time, with only a couple of hours before my friends arrived, I had a conversation with God.  I was so frustrated with the whole situation, not to mention I had hardly slept the night before from the stench.  I asked, “Lord, what in the world is this all about?  What are You trying to teach me here?  I don’t get it!  I thought you wanted me to have a day alone with You!?!”

Immediately God spoke to me in my spirit, “That’s what your sin smells like to Me.  When there’s something in your life that you neglect to repent and ask forgiveness for, that’s what it’s like.  It’s like decay in your life.  And instead of you giving off a sweet-smelling aroma, I smell the stench of your sin.”

Wow!  Ok, I got it.  Obviously Jesus made a way for us to be forgiven, but repentance is a real and necessary thing.  Repent comes from the Hebrew word, shuwb, meaning to turn back.  So when we repent, we literally turn away from our sins and back to God.

We all have them don’t we?  We have yucky, rotting things hidden away in our soul closets– or refrigerators in this case.  Pride easily creeps in and we’re unaware.  We idolize, don’t we?  We’re really no different from those Israelites.  We get our eyes off of the worship of God and on ourselves, others, money, our children, our jobs, and the list goes on! It’s so easy to get tripped up with life, and self-pity, and self-indulgence.

After God spoke this to my heart, I had to stop and pray a prayer of repentance for everything identifiable in the rotting refrigerator of my soul.  It was ugly in there, believe me.  It needed a thorough Holy Spirit bleaching.  Not only did I repent of all the nasty, hidden things I was aware of, but I asked God to clean for me and show me the things I couldn’t see.

This refrigerator cleaning is a tough and grueling process, literally and spiritually.  But when it’s all over, the house is back to a sweet-smelling aroma.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”  2 Corinthians 2:14-15

As God would have it, after my lesson was given and received, my friends arrived.  Our whole time together was perfect… one God-gift after another.  You see,  even through our yuck, like any father who loves His children, our Father disciplines, but He still loves!  He blessed our time together.  From moving clouds and rain, to perfect meals, to perfect parking places, He showered blessings on His girls.

Have you and God cleaned your refrigerator lately?

31 thoughts on “Not What I Expected

  1. Stacey Blubaugh says:

    Going home to clean out my refrigerator now…
    God’s real life lessons, I love those. Love your blog! And I have a daugther who is 13 and I’m going to ask her to read your dating advice. You hit on so many things my husband and I have been instilling in our kids…13 & 14 years old.

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Thank you for stopping by. It’s so nice to “meet” you here. As God leads you, please feel free to share as much as you like:) That’s why I write, to inspire and encourage others. Thank you for encouraging me with your words, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you again soon.

  2. Courageous Jane says:

    Oh Rivera! What a story … I haven’t gotten to the point of being able to share my most embarrassing moments yet. Or my very biggest struggles (other than fear). This story reminded me of my Easter Sunday drama-dance from this year. So now I share … a song to go with this theme: (Darrell Evans: The Fragrance of This Room) I wish I could attach of video of our dramatization of this. It was the most beautiful, intimate moment I think I’ve ever had with Jesus.

  3. Lea Mikosz says:

    Love this story…we get so caught up in our schedules and our plans that wait where does God fit in? We sometimes want to plan our days thinking that God is working around our schedules . But then He lets us know that He is in charge and He has a different plan. I love how you saw the good in the bad of the situation. God blessed you and your friends despite the unexpected surprises!

  4. Mary says:

    I love the way God is working through you to show us all how He can transform the ordinary events in our lives into extraordinary lessons that reveal His mercy, grace, compassion and love for us…if we’re willing to listen and draw near!! You go, girl! (Ditto to Suzanne 🙂

  5. fullherlife says:

    A clean house feels so good doesn’t it! Walking in the light and praising God beautiful friend. p.s. I love the beach too! ~ Blessings from Maine, Amy 😉

  6. Suzanne says:

    Wow Ver!! What an incredible post!! I have never thought of my son as being horrifically stinky, but your right on point!! Thank you for this!!!

      1. Suzanne says:

        I keep thinking of things now lol! Interestingly, right before I read this I had been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning my bathroom. It was not stinky, but certainly needed a good scrub. I have an old porclein tub and there were several places I just couldn’t get perfect, and I was so frustrated. I wanted it to be completely spotless and white. I also wanted this to happen really quickly. Needless to say, after trying many different cleaning products with no luck, I started thinking how can I cover this up. Hmmm…after reading your post it makes me think of the sins in my life I try to fix myself with just some tidying up here and there and then when that doesn’t work I try to cover it up. Silly that we think we can hide our sin at times. What a wonderful Savior we serve though! Patiently waiting for the slow Learners( me) to realize we have to turn to Him! It is not by our works or power or anything we do that saves us! Only because Christ died and was resurrected and that we are unconditionally loved by a Powerful God full of mercy and grace!!

        Wow!!! I had no clue I was getting a lesson tonight! Thanks Ver!

  7. Audrey Malloy says:

    Rivera, thank you so much….from now on when I am cleaning my home and all the mess from my family I will ALWAYS remember to clean MY refrigerator!….. It needs a good holy spirit bleach cleaning from the inside out from time to time. I am so grateful for your words of truth and how you bless me…<3 u

  8. Sis says:

    That’s a great story, it’s also a good reminder of how awful our sin is. So often I try to say to myself it’s no big deal, but it always is a big deal to God. You have beautiful writing.

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