The Lesson of the Cleaners

Toilet Cleaner BrushWe know that God works in all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), but… toilet bowl cleaners? Really?

I know of two major brands of disposable, wand-style toilet bowl cleaners that are currently on the market, and one of the two appears to be more popular than the other (at least in the area where we live). I know this because we chose to purchase and use the brand that we would later determine to be the far less popular of the two. Each time that we needed to replenish our supply of the disposable cleaners, we would experience greater difficulty than the time before in doing so.

Store after store and shopping trip after shopping trip, we would search in vain for the replacement cleaners that fit the wands that we were using. Discovering that the stores where we had previously purchased them no longer carried them, our search area necessarily continued increasing, as did the time and energy that we were expending. The cleaners, intended  to be helpful, became a frustration.

Then a day arrived when I decided to simplify our search by calling stores in advance. But call after call ended with the same negative response. On that morning, with regard to the cleaners, I reached the end of my proverbial rope.

Then a solution, one that should have been obvious earlier, suddenly became apparent. I suggested to my husband that we simply replace our current wands with those of the more available brand. He agreed, not only to the idea, but also to do so that day while running errands.

Arriving home later that afternoon, my husband handed me a new wand of the “other” brand, and I gave it a test run. Our problem appeared to be over. In actuality, though, it was not. While my husband and I had agreed to purchase the new wand and cleaners, we had not yet discussed what we would do with the old wands.

As I began gathering the old wands from the various bathrooms for disposal, my husband stopped me. His line of thinking was to keep both the old wands and the new ones, so that we could purchase whichever refills were available when they were needed. His idea of a better system was to “cover all of the bases.” I, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with a dual system that retained the original, frustrating wands. I wanted the simplification of one available brand.

Our three-story home contains at least one bathroom on each level. Complicating the cleaning issue is the fact that the lowest level is accessible only by an exterior entrance. Carrying a toilet bowl cleaner in and out, as well as up and down, though do-able when necessary, was not my idea of simple. I wanted one new wand in each bathroom for easy access.

Having arrived at a stalemate of opinions, things remained as they were, until one morning when my husband was heading out of the house for an early morning meeting and more errand running. I decided to broach the subject of the cleaners, beginning with the words, “I know this is a trivial matter, but…” Trivial it was, but the “but” part of the statement still mattered to both of us, and we maintained our opposing positions.

When my husband left the house a few minutes later, I was upset, not about toilet bowl cleaners, but about how such minor issues can adversely affect relationships, even minutely. My husband had the same thought upon leaving the house that morning and proceeded to end the matter by purchasing more of the new wand.

But that morning, as my husband pulled out of the driveway, my thoughts focused on relationships. Within seconds, I suddenly realized a greater truth. Still standing at the door, I heard myself exclaim, “Oh, God! All You have ever wanted is a relationship with us, and we keep letting trivial matters come between us!” (“Trivial” is used relative to the importance of our current and eternal relationships with God, with no intention of minimizing the seriousness of any life situation.) The truth struck not only my mind, but my heart as well, and I felt the pain that the truth delivered.

Since before man’s existence, God’s desire has been to establish eternal fellowship with each and every one of the beloved individuals of His Creation. We (mankind), not God, created the rift in our relationship with Him. We were the ones who punctuated (and still punctuate) life apart from God with strife and pain that God never intended. We created (and still create) our own frustration. No matter how hard we tried (and still try:  work at, put forth effort, finagle), we couldn’t (and still can’t) right the wrongs that we have done against God, enabling us to return to intimate fellowship with Him. Our efforts were (are) fruitless.

Such was (is) life under “The Law”–—the legalistic system of trying to “live right,” to follow the “rules” (the commandments of God and men), to earn the right to live with God and to give people what they “deserve.” God knew all along that we couldn’t live “perfectly,” but He gave (gives) us the time that we needed (need) to discover for ourselves the futility of trying to do so.

Then, at just the right time, God provided an end to our frustration. He gave us a new and better “system,” one based not upon our effort, but upon His provision. God handed us a way to have simple, yet dependable, access to Him for all time. He offered us grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The question became, “Would we each choose to take advantage of God’s provision in Jesus Christ; and, if so, to what degree would we depend upon Him?”

Similar to my determining to separate myself completely from the cleaning wands that were more nuisance than benefit, each of us must choose to abandon our misguided thinking and efforts, choosing instead to have faith in God. Turning to God only in “emergencies” equates to keeping one new wand in a cabinet for use only when we believe that we have no choice but to use it.

Our confessions of faith in Jesus Christ are the turning points in our lives when we admit that we can’t get the job of “living right” done on our own. But God didn’t send Jesus just to “cover the bases” from time to time. The perfection of Jesus Christ covers every need, every time.

On the day when my husband and I had once again disagreed about the cleaners, we both chose separately to set aside the annoyance of our disagreement, strengthening our relationship by giving it top priority.

God has chosen similarly (though to a far greater degree) to give top priority to our relationships with Him by covering our sins with the blood of His Son. God refuses to allow our sins (once confessed in Jesus) ever to separate us from Him again.

What God has done is enough. His perfect love has set the standard, loving all who are imperfect. He invites us into fellowship with Him, thereby enabling us to do the same, by His Spirit who comes to dwell within us.

And that is not a challenge. That is a bona fide miracle. If you don’t think so, just keep trying to love the world-–-the whole world––without Him. That is true frustration.

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“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:34)


THOUGHTS ON “THE LESSON OF THE CLEANERS”

Sue Ceravolo on March 4, 2013 at 8:57 am said: “My relationship defects (God and man) become so magnified in “the small stuff”. Most always because I want it my way.”

Sharon Morris on March 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm said:  “Excellent article!”

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