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Clean Springing
By John Hunt

When you come right down to it, only two types of people dwell on this earth – those who like to clean, and normal people. While I, myself, would never claim to belong in the latter group, I definitely don’t fit in the former.

The first time my wife ever proclaimed it time for spring cleaning, the concept completely and blissfully eluded me. The idea sounded benign enough. After all, how long could it take to clean a spring? And really, our house had only two springs – the garage door torsion spring, and our mattress box spring, both of which (I’ve been told) are maintenance free. Yes, I found my loophole; I would have time to clean this spring – whatever it was – and still hit the links. It turns out, however, my wife was thinking outside the box spring. I stood in bewilderment as she stoically pronounced it time to clean out the garage.

Now, where I come from, a clean garage is a sign of a sick mind. Normal people just don’t go around disrupting perfectly peaceful boxes. And really, one should consider the garage floor sacred ground, never to be trampled on or touched. It is the final resting place for discarded toys, outgrown clothes and unused exercise apparatuses, after all. Of course, one cannot reason with a wife who has free time – and more importantly, free labor – on her hands. Nonetheless, I firmly stood my ground. I was not about to clean out the garage. No way. Uh-uh. Not me.

An hour later, in the midst of cleaning the garage, I discovered a mountain of stuff I ostensibly had to deal with – a mountain roughly the size of our local landfill. Oddly enough, it seemed to consist of similar material. My options were limited.

I could hold a garage sale. Garage sales are strange animals. Known by such similar names as Yard Sales, Rummage Sales, and Weekend Husband Tortures, this bizarre tradition involves saving up a whole warehouse full of unneeded stuff and sacrificing an entire weekend of his or her life to peddle unwanted items to unwary passers-by, only to clear about $17.25. And really, there’s something unnatural about strangers perusing your garage like a mall department store, bartering for items priced lower than the amount of change in their cumulative pockets. "I’ll give you ten cents for it, but that’s my final offer." What’s even worse is when one takes his or her profits and buys unwanted stuff at a neighbor’s garage sale. Hence, the circle of life continues.

Of course, I could always rent a storage room, an option that makes even less sense than a garage sale. This idea would involve clearing my house (and my conscience) of my stuff and hauling it off to the nearest self-storage unit. The irony is that I would spend $20 a month to store $17.25 worth of stuff in someone else’s garage.

My final option seemed to make the most sense, although it is often the least palatable. William Shakespeare once penned, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Evidently, he must have had a garage full of stuff at Stratford-upon-Avon. In any case, the best course of action – and often the one with the most closure (garage door or otherwise) – requires donating your unneeded stuff to a charitable institution (while refraining from perusing the resale shop in the process).

Now, we all have the propensity to hang on to baggage in our lives. It’s human nature. In our spiritual walk, the risk of hanging onto baggage can also plague us. This baggage can take many forms:

Material possessions can get in the way of our relationship with God.

We see in the gospel of Mark (chapter 18) the young man who valued riches more than following God. Jesus told the man to "sell all that he had, and come and follow (him)." Sadly, the young man chose not to part with his wealth.

In 1 Timothy, Paul warns us about becoming rich and falling into temptation and a snare. By worldly standards, most of us reading this article would be considered rich. Each day, we should examine our hearts and purge ourselves of the "lust of the eyes," and confess, like Job, that "naked we came into this world, and naked we shall leave."

Unconfessed sin separates us from God.

In addition to tangible baggage, unseen baggage can also separate us from God. Unconfessed sin separates us from our creator (Romans 6:23), stifles our prayer life (Psalms 66:18), and robs our peace. G. Campbell Morgan, a contemporary of D.L. Moody and former pastor of Westminster Chapel of London, once said, Peace in human experience is the issue of pardon and purity. There can be no peace so long as sin is unforgiven; there can be no perfect peace so long as impurity remains in the life.

Thankfully, we have God’s promise in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithfull and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Our preconceptions can come between us and God.

Upon coming to Christ, the danger of bringing with us the baggage of preconceptions can hinder us. Jesus doesn’t politely tap us on the shoulder and suggest we follow Him on our own terms. That would be like putting old wine in new wine skins, which, as we all know, causes them to burst and be good for nothing. No, he commands us to become a new creation in Him, worshipping Him in Spirit and Truth.

After explaining the futility of holding a garage sale to my wife, I thought for sure she would see my superior reasoning and agree to cart off our unwanted items to Goodwill. Remember what I said about reasoning with a woman with free labor on her hands? Still, I was steadfastly determined to stand my ground. No way was I going to pathetically sit around all day while neighbors picked over my once-prized possessions. I would not hold a garage sale. Uh-uh. Not me.

So the following day, while I pathetically peddled wares out the back of our garage, my next door neighbor stopped by. He’s a newlywed, and is blissfully unaware of the nuances of clandestine marital warfare. Suddenly, his wife turns to him and says, "You know, honey, we need to do some spring cleaning."

I could tell by the expression on his face what he was thinking ...

"Spring? I’ve found my loophole."

Poor unsuspecting soul.
John Hunt is a freelance writer who lives near Chicago, Illinois with his wife of ten years and three children. He is an extremely unsuccessful garage sale entrepreneur who, in his free time, plots ways to avoid doing what his wife wants him to do in his free time.

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