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?