Behind the Vacuum

Tracy Jones - Luke!When my youngest son, Luke, was two, he was a fearless, rascally boy who loved dismantling the vacuum. However, one day as I was vacuuming, he became really scared of the vacuum. As I was vacuuming under his kitchen chair, which was littered with dropped veggies and crumbs, he kept yelling and running away. I was watching him in sort of amazement because first of all, Luke is fearless. Second of all, he had never done that before with the vacuum. However, the thought that really gripped me was that usually when he was scared of something he ran to me.

For many years at the first of Luke’s like, I was quite definitively his favorite person on the planet. Luke LOVED me. Of course, at some mysterious point in the future his admiration and love would expand to include Daddy, but for those sweet early years he was my personal fan club. There was no comfort like Mommy, no one else like Mommy to kiss it and make it better, or put him to bed. From this wild and wrestling, roaring and wriggly child, I got all the cuddles and kisses and sighs of adoration that a Mommy could possibly want. I’ll tell you a secret, I still do, and I love it.

In that moment, as I looked at my son running from me I kept wondering why he would run from the person he loves most. I’m cleaning up his mess. I am doing this for him. I’m saving him from ants. I would never ever harm him or hurt him, and yet he is afraid of me with the vacuum.

And somewhere in that moment, I felt the heart of God. There are times in our lives when God starts cleaning house. He starts messing with our messes, or cleaning up friendships and relationships. He may clean out a cupboard with lost dreams, or sort through a closet of masks that you have been hiding behind. He may even start cleaning house in your career so that He can move you into a better place for your gifting and personality. Sometimes it is a cleaning, sometimes a sorting, but it is always for your good and to give you a future and a hope.
Yet, so many times when life gets difficult or uncomfortable, we run from the vacuum cleaner. We don’t want things to be hard or loud. We don’t trust the process and sometimes we can even forget how much we love the God who holds the vacuum. We hide from his cleaning, we shrink back from the junk he wants to remove from our hearts.

I have a friend who is mad at God. He feels that God hurt him and he has determined that God can never make it right. Consequently, in every instance when God wants to heal or to bless him or to clean him of the baggage that he is carrying, he shrinks back. He runs from God’s presence all the while craving the very thing he is running from. When he gets into a worship service he weeps and weeps, but won’t let God come near enough to pull the thorn out of his heart that is causing all of his pain. He says he still loves God, but the truth is he just doesn’t know Him.

Just like Luke with the vacuum, in the noise and discomfort, my friend has lost sight of God’s heart for him and His kindness and love for him. He fears the vacuum because he doesn’t know that God would never hurt him. God didn’t hurt him in the first place. The enemy did that and blamed it on God. God wept with him in his pain, He didn’t do it to him. There is evil in this world and God in His incredible mercy gives us freedom of choice. We have the freedom to chose Him, or not, just as others have the freedom to inflict pain. We are not His puppets, we are His kids.

Ironically, as thankful as we are for our own freedom, we so wish that God would control everyone else and take away theirs. It is a cycle of blame and destruction and all it does is push us further from our Father and the truth of His goodness. It is as simple as this:

God is good.
The devil is bad
God can only do good.
The devil can only do bad.
So if He wants to clean something where the enemy has made a mess, it is only with our good in mind.

As all of these thoughts flashed through my mind, I felt little hands pulling at my pants leg. Luke’s beautiful face was turned up toward me asking me to hold him. I picked him up, perched him on my hip and kept on vacuuming. Once again he was fearless. Once again he had found his Mommy’s arms and all was well in the world. You see the safest place to be during the cleaning is in your Father’s arms. He isn’t doing anything “to” you. Rather the two of you are tackling the mess together.

If you have been running from the vacuum cleaner in your life, it is a really good idea to re-examine your position. Your Father is only good and if you are running from him, you are probably wasting a lot of energy on needless fear and missing out on something wonderful (like an ant-free life). The chances are, if you have been running from God in some area of your life and fearing what will happen if you surrender, you are overcomplicating the situation. You don’t have to clean up the mess yourself. You just have to get on the right side of the vacuum. Your Father has you. He will do the cleaning. You just have to find His arms.