Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Lesson from the Linen Closet

This week I was beginning the process of decluttering a file cabinet... trying to decide what to save and what to throw away. Some things are no-brainers -- owners’ manuals for worn-out or discarded appliances, instructions for craft projects I’ll never make. Others are more difficult. Over the years I’ve saved many articles, devotional thoughts, newsletters, etc. Some of those are worth saving, and I’m trying to sort those into categories to file.
As I sorted through some old newsletters, I discovered one devotional article that really spoke to my heart. It was written by Beneth Peters Jones, who, some years ago, used to write a regular column -- “Sunshine on the Soapsuds” -- in a couple of different periodicals. In this particular column, she was speaking about changing the sheets in the master bedroom, and how she would usually simply wait until the pillowcases had been washed and dried and then replace them on the pillows. But on this day, she didn’t want to wait that long before putting on fresh pillowcases. She went to the linen closet and pulled out two white pillowcases. She had my attention now, because I dearly love my white pillowcases. They are older and need to be ironed each time they’re washed, but oh, what a nice crisp feel they have to them! But Beneth Jones was somewhat disappointed in her clean white pillowcases, and she found a spiritual lesson in her linen closet. She wrote:

“I started putting the cases on the pillows, but while doing so I detected a musty smell. Examining the pillowcases, I saw that both had been smoothly ironed; both had been neatly folded; both had been stored in the linen closet and left there unused for some time. My inspection revealed pillowcases that were clean, but stale.
“There are many Christians who are much like my pillowcases. Yes, they are genuinely born again. They are not dirty; they keep themselves set apart from the grime of the world. But they are on the shelf, out of circulation. Seemingly, they are content just to exist -- safe and quiet on their shelf, ignoring God’s commands to be active for Him. There they sit, not serving the purpose for which God intended them.
“And, like my pillowcases, those believers inevitably grow stale! An unpleasant aroma wafts out to those around them: the closet-kept smell of Bible verses learned as children and kept as ‘emergency material’ should they be called upon to quote a verse in Sunday School; the mustiness of their shelf-bound lives as they only comment upon and criticize those who are active for the Lord; the slightly sour aura of their self-saving motivations. Not dirty -- just stale.
“As I put those stale-scented pillowcases into the washing machine that morning, I had to wonder about the aroma of my life on a day-to-day basis. It is so easy to become stale, though we keep ourselves from the dirt of gross sin! The only way you and I can stay both clean and fresh... is through daily cleansing, sweetening, empowering, and using by the Spirit and the Word!”
-- Beneth Peters Jones

What a great lesson this was to me! I pray it will be an encouragement to someone else as well.

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