I love spring. Actually, I love all the seasons because each one offers something uniquely its own. The season of spring, however, is a good metaphor for my life. It's the New Year's Day of the four seasons. It's a time of hope and new beginnings. Sure, it has its down sides like the first really warm day when you pull out a pair of shorts from last summer. I did just that the first weekend in April and no sooner had I walked out my front door than I heard the wails of what seemed a thousand sirens. I thought I was about to be arrested for daring to go public with such lily white, out of shape legs. To my relief, it was several area fire departments responding to a field fire near our house. With that scare fresh in my mind, I vowed to start an exercise program right away rather than spend the hot and humid months of July and August in sweat pants.

       Spring is also the reason we "spring clean." Out with the old and in with the new. It's time to replace that dead poinsettia in front of the fireplace with a fresh hydrangea, vacuum from floor to ceiling, scrub the woodwork and wash the windows. You get the idea. Unfortunately, I didn't until another incident involving sirens. Not that I'm making excuses, but our daughter Hallie was hospitalized for six days in March. A period of convalescing was required at home complete with two antibiotics which had to be administered intravenously every 8 hours, each taking about an hour and a half to administer. Needless to say, housework was not high on my priority list and quite frankly, I was a little miffed that I needed to do it all. Alone! There was even a toilet that hadn't been flushed in I don't know how long and I was not about to flush it. "If whomever is using it isn't bothered by it, I can hold my nose when I walk by the bathroom," I said to myself. I had drawn the battle lines in my head and I decided the health department could come in and condemn the whole house before I was going to be nurse AND maid AND cook AND chauffeur AND...that is when it happened. The day began just like any ordinary day except that it was my husband's birthday. My 5-year old son decided that he wanted to help me bake the birthday cake while simultaneously creating birthday cards, posters and what he calls "puzzles," which in actuality is a piece of typing paper cut into what has to be a million pieces. When I took Will to pre-school, the kitchen looked like a bomb had exploded in it. The family room looked as though a ticker tape parade had made its way through and the rest of the house was in a complete state of disarray. If there was anything positive to be said it was that all the beds were made.

       I ran a few errands on my way home and psyched myself up for an afternoon of cleaning. I was even going to flush and clean that toilet. When I got home, I immediately sensed that something was amiss among the mess. (Say that out loud, it sounds really good!) Doors were open, which I had not opened. Hmmmmmm and did I notice something hanging from the front door? It was a "Notification Card" from our police department that our front door was wide open and that they had checked our house to make sure everyone and everything was all right. A message on our answering machine indicated the UPS man had dropped off a package when he found the front door wide open. A neighbor informed me that three squad cars had pulled up and from best she could tell, probably six uniformed police officers and a UPS man armed with a package from Amazon.com had gone through our house, all accompanied by our barking, jumping, hyperactive dog. "It was quite a scene," she said. She didn't know the half of it.

        "Oh no," I thought. "They saw the kitchen! The family room!! The basement!!! THEY SAW AND SMELLED THE TOILET!!!!" Once I regained consciousness, I remembered that the notification card and message on the answering machine instructed me to call the police department and let them know if everything was okay which I promptly did. I told them I was so happy they had finally discovered this and yes, everybody is fine. "Periodically," I went on, "my good friend and everybody's favorite weatherman, Dick Goddard, likes to break into our house. He never takes anything. He just likes to mess things up and use our toilet before he leaves. You really should speak to him about it." Of course, we all had a good laugh (everyone else more so than me!) but if I had done my spring cleaning before that day, I wouldn't have suffered the humiliation of having my "secret" mess revealed. Sin is a lot like that. If we are Christians, oftentimes we say things or do things in private that we don't think anyone will ever see. Yet God does. I brought embarrassment upon myself, my husband and family through my "secret" mess being revealed. Likewise, we bring shame to God when we profess to be His followers but a "secret" mess is revealed.

       There is a lesson in this for unbelievers, too. Let's make my messy house the metaphor for all the wrongs you've ever committed in your life and the police are the metaphor for Jesus. What would happen if He came to your house today? Would He find it a mess, filled with sin and evil? Here is the good news. Although God's Word tells us that "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (we are) justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24). What great news! We can try on our own to clean out our lives but it will never be good enough. Jesus is all we need! Before I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I thought I had done too many bad things for God to ever love me, that my "house" was just too messy. At the time, I didn't know why, but I started reading a Bible which I had found in my closet. This is the scripture that changed my life. "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18) How can this be, you ask? Because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to atone for our sins. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Praise Jesus for "clean houses and flushed toilets!"

Robin Swoboda-Wagner is available to speak to your group, ministry or at your special event. Call 1-800-471-9673 for more information.