Thursday, November 15, 2012

Law, Gospel, Cleaning Rage, series continued.

This is part 3 in the series. If you missed it, read part 1, and part 2.


PhotobucketI slammed the basement door for effect.
“Children, meet me in the living room. We need to have a talk.” I spoke in a firm voice.
I met them there with eyes unsmiling, and papers in my hand.
“What’s wrong mommy?”
“I just went downstairs, children. Do you know what I found there?”
The younger ones shook their heads.
The older children sat silent, with guilty eyes.
“It was A MESS.” I said. “I could not beLIEVE what a mess it was downstairs.”
“We’re sorry, mom,” said one little girl in a small voice. She stood up, read to begin the huge job of cleaning up.
“Hold on a minute,” I said. “You are not dismissed. We need to talk about this.”

They sat, avoiding eye contact, half listening to my lecture. They have heard it before. They know that big messes can push mom over the edge, and then she starts talking about “ungratefulness” and “stewardship” “materialism” and “how much junk we have.”
But this time, I pulled out the list. Their eyes got wide.
I listed, item by item line by line, my case against them. I had printed out the list, and it took up eight pages (with large font of course.)  

I read, and read
and read,
and read.
Then finally, I stopped.


“What do you think should be done about this, children?”
“You should throw all the stuff away,” said one, knowing my tendency for garbage bag grabbing.
“No! We should have to clean it up!” said another.
“But it’s SO much! We’ll never get it done!” said the youngest.
I nodded. “It is a huge job, and it is going to take you a very long time. Let’s do it this way. Each of you can take two pages of this list, and you are responsible for cleaning up those things.”
What could they say? They took their pages and slowly walked towards the basement stairs.
“But, I thought we were going to watch a movie tonight?” said one in a small voice.
“So did I,” I said sadly, “but it looks like you will be working instead.”
They moped down the hallway with their lists, and I followed.
Sad feet tromped down the stairs.

Then, the oldest stopped.
“Mommy?! It’s done already!” she said.
They all stopped on the stairs and looked in amazement on the clean basement.
Not a thing was out of place, and the clean smell of bleach filled the air.

“Did you clean up our mess for us mommy?” They couldn't believe it.
I smiled, but I squirmed, and I tried to move out of the spotlight, not wanting to build my children’s hopes on my own awesomeness, but His.
“Yes, children, I cleaned up your mess for you. Do you know why I did that?”

“Mom, it’s kind of like Jesus,” said the big one with the big heart, and I smiled because she understood.

“Exactly,” I said. “Did you know that Jesus cleans up MY messes too? Mom sometimes has a heart messy with sin, and it’s so messy I can’t fix it myself. But Jesus forgives me cleans me up, and then fills me with His love.”

I told them about my own bad attitude as I was cleaning, and I told them that I have a big long list of sins, too.

And then, again, we spoke of the cross and gospel.  And we recalled together the shocking grace of God that gives us His righteousness when we only deserve the consequences of our sin.

We hugged on the stairs, and they joyfully crumbled up the lists, the Law, the charges against them, and threw it all in the trash.

And we breathed grace and hugged grace and smiled grace and watched a movie under blankets of grace.

Because of Jesus.

It is good to be a child.


Wait, did I just teach my children that they get to shirk all responsibilities, 
and let mommy take care of their messes forever,
all because of Jesus???

What do you think of this object lesson?

Read Part 4 (Where are the rules?)


  1. This is great, in my opinion! It really hits home and probably just what Jesus would have used to teach them about Himself. Well, I mean, He did actually!! So awesome how He still is alive and moving powerfully! -lily

  2. I think that's lovely, and no, I don't think it has taught them to shirk. Probably the opposite: To want to learn to do the good works that God has prepared for them. Including showing mercy, because you're teaching them about His mercy.

  3. Thank you for visiting my blog, Sweet Blessing! Nice to "meet" you! :)

    As I began reading this post I was thinking, Oh I could have easily wrote this! From the mess, to my reaction to the "lecture" as my kids put it. But then as I continued to read, I was brought to tears.

    I love how you used this, something that normally pushes you over the edge, to teach your children about the love of our Savior. I also love how Jesus did this for ME. His love is amazing!

  4. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful lesson for your kids (and you, too :) ). Thank you for sharing it.


  5. there could be the negative backlash, however, I think that this was the best object lesson that they can learn. He sees, He knows, and He takes care of it; all because He loves us! for them to have that picture in their heads when things happen in their lives as we all know they will, and to know that Jesus has their messes in His hands. Oh what a beautiful thought and example of Grace and Mercy!

  6. Thank you so much for this, Emily! I have been very annoyed lately at the "inconveniences" of my children (especially their messes!), while simultaneously struggling with guilt that I, even I, have never been seen so by our Father. Now I know what to do the next time I go into our basement and encounter what you did: teach them grace.

  7. This moved me to tears. And I am now on my way up to put away all the books in my son's closet while he is sleeping. He was wailing at the prospect of having to tackle this project with me earlier this evening and we ran out of time before bed. I have given the "other lecture" plenty of times. It's high time for this one. Thank you for the inspiration. :)

  8. This post moved me so much... Sniff sniff. I avoid tidying up my girls rooms for them quite often because I want them to take responsibility. They are already the most responsible, faithful children that I know, and yet I am still hard on them :o( Thank you for this post. It has given me much to think about. I pray God helps me treasure up this lesson in my heart. Blessings to you!

  9. Thank you all for your kind comments. As I said, the "other" lecture is often the way of things around here... it is much more natural for this mama! It was so kind of our Father to soften my heart with grace this one time, so that i could pass some of that kindness on to those kids :)

  10. Emily I want to thank you so much for this post! I took away the lesson when I read it and today I taught it to my 9yr old daughter. Her room was hiding a treasure trove of clutter. I every drawer, on every shelf in every cupboard was a multitude of mess. Erasers, mixed with hairbands and pieces of games, broken pencils and pens without lids wrapped up in odd dirty socks and newsletters from school that she was supposed to give me back in September. Half drawn scribbled pictures and cut up bits of paper. Beaded necklaces in with barbie clothes...OMGoodness you know exactly what I am talking about. I only sorted her room when we transitioned the seasonal clothes swap not that long ago. I told her of the mess I found, I told her she would have to spend the afternoon cleaning instead of baking brownies like we had planned. She cried. :( Until she came out of her room running to me with arms open and thanked me so much for cleaning out her whole room.. :) I explained about my long list of sins being so much longer than hers and about Jesus cleaning up my mess of a life. She loved that idea. I think it really made the lesson of God's love and forgiveness real to her. So thank you so very much! I am so glad I read your blog. You bless me so often..You truly are my Sister in Christ! Thank you! :)


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