Tidiness is not my strength. I hate cleaning almost as much as I love cooking. Nevertheless, a childhood lesson lingers: You always clean up for company.
When my mom would host a party in the 80s, Leigh Ann and I had to spend what seemed like an entire day cleaning our rooms. She even made us clean up what was under the beds.
"Mom, seriously? Who's even going to go in our rooms during this party, much less look under the beds?" we'd ask.
"You never know! You need to do it anyway. Get in there and finish up and stop all this belly-aching," she'd insist.
Now that I have my own place, I often fail to keep it clean when I am home alone. But I still remember what my mama taught me: you pick up when you are expecting company.
However, there are certain occasions when, no matter how sloppy my home is, I'll allow a close friend to come inside for an unexpected visit. I still remember feeling hurt when a good friend insisted I couldn't see the inside of her home it just wasn't clean enough. On an emotional level, it felt as if she wasn't willing to let me in.
I reflected on those thoughts about tidiness and hospitality in church recently, as the choir sang an anthem entitled "Who at My Door is Standing?" The song is about hearing God's call at your heart and opening it to let Him in, no matter how chagrined you feel about your untidiness or lack of preparation:
Within, the rooms are darkened, all filled with dust and sin.
How shameful, how unworthy for Christ to enter in.
Yet, the tones are falling: "Now open the door for Me!
If thou wilt heed My calling, I will abide with thee.
It reminded me of the famous Holman Hunt painting, Light of the World, which hangs in St. Paul's Cathedral and is the subject of a stained glass window in my childhood church.
Or will we let him inside as a true friend: one who sees our dirty dishes and unfolded laundry, our stacks of newspapers and empty cans ready to be recycled. They see it all, they love us anyway, and they pitch in to help us get our house organized. I think God must be like that too, a God who takes us as we are, loving us in spite of--or even because of--the messy parts.