Cleaning Up Is Never Easy

The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."
The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring."  Genesis 20:8-13
Cleaning up is never easy. Sometimes our homes are left unkempt for long periods of time and we are faced with the long and arduous task of cleaning up. Sometimes our teenage children leave their rooms a total mess with all kinds of things hidden in strategic places. With threats of punishment and loss of some privileges, they are compelled to reluctantly clean up their messy rooms. With stern unsmiling faces, parents pop in as inspectors to approve or disapprove of the quality of the cleaning. Cleanup is never easy. When we keep putting it off, our environment gets junky and much more difficult to clean up.

Our lives need periodic examination and clean up. Sometimes the choices we make can bring lots of junk into our lives. Things can get so messy that cleaning up can bring untold hardships and pain. But when left unattended to, the consequences get more and more ghastly.

Abraham and Sarah created a mess when Abraham accepted Sarah's proposal to have a child with her slave, Hagar. First, Hagar started disrespecting Sarah when she got pregnant. Sarah retaliated by maltreating her. She ran away and only returned when God instructed her to do so.  Next, Hagar's son Ishmael mocked Sarah when she was rejoicing over the birth of Isaac. This time, God agreed with Sarah that Hagar and her son had to leave for good. Sarah was right. Abraham was being distracted from his destiny by the drama surrounding Hagar and Ishmael. This was a painful thing for Abraham, "because it concerned his son." God, however, assured Abraham that there was no need to worry. He would bless Ishmael because he was Abraham's son as well. Abraham listened and God kept His promise.

There are times when the mess we create can be so overwhelming that it takes divine intervention to clean it up. Those moments can be painful. Sometimes relationships have to be let go as part of the cleanup. Sometimes certain dear things must be let go. But in the end, listening to God always pays off. It gives us the opportunity for a fresh start and the chance to refocus on our destiny. Cleanup is never easy, but the payoff is worth it.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and shine your light on any area of my life that needs to be cleaned up. Help me to submit and not to resist as you clean me up. Amen.