Those of you who know me know that I am a clean freak.
I also have a two-year-old.
These are not complementary forces.
More than any other room in the house, it is the kitchen that takes the heaviest beating when it comes to cleanliness. My beautiful daughter, it seems is able to wreak such havoc and destruction there during dinner time that it is impossible to ignore. After dinner is over and she is in bed, all I can do sometimes to make peace with the mess is to shut off the kitchen lights and close the door that separates the kitchen from our living room.
Later that evening, I will go back in, scrub it from top to bottom, then make my own way to bed.
Our apartment faces the back of another building, so at night it can get very dark. We usually leave the light on above the stove in case we get thirsty at night, or the takeout from earlier begins to beckon one of us for a late night snack.
The light above the stove is the most unforgiving of all, because the stove is of the glass-top variety. The "dirt" on the stove is not something simple. It's not crumbs or dust or smudges, but years of caked material that's literally been burned into the glass over the years. There are also scratches in the glass- old wounds from carelessness or mistakes made in the cooking process. No matter how hard I scrub the glass, it just never looks clean.
Though the entire kitchen is clean, this part of it remains dirty. Even after two years in this apartment, it is the one thing I can't seem to get clean, no matter how hard I work at it.
The scriptures compare God to many things, but one comparison that is made over and over again is the similarity of God and light.
As a pastor, I get many questions. At the top of the list though, are questions like, "I am so filled with mistakes. How can God love me? I keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again."
It's difficult to understand how a God of love would be so keen at illuminating our conscience. The closer we get to God, the more we see how filled with mistakes we are.
John Calvin said it this way:
“The more eminently that any one excels in holiness, the farther he feels himself from perfect righteousness."
This is painful. It doesn't feel like love. In fact, it often feels like pain. Why?
Because God is light. Like the light above my stove, I can take it as judgment when it exposes the dirty parts of my kitchen, or I can be thankful that it's letting me know where the dirt is, even if it takes me years to figure out how to really get it clean.
The light stays on, night after night, keeping me from falling in the dark. Without it, I'd be lost.
This is what a good light does. It exposes and it guides.
God's light is his love, and his love is far too great to leave us alone, lost in the dark. It's also far too great to leave us blind to the areas that need cleaning, even if cleaning them is very, well… messy.