Gardener on the Outside, Hoarder on the Inside

Every one of us have our quirks, weaknesses, and special fixations. But some of those become real illnesses, hidden and protected behind a facade of distance or excuses or emotional isolation.

Imagine a home on your street whose flowers are vigorous, whose lawn has that sharp-edged cut that leaves every blade of grass aligned with the next, whose trees are perfectly pruned, its paint in meticulously flawless condition. When you look upon this house, every part of the exterior is ideal.

One day, an ambulance arrives at the door and you hurry over to try to provide help and support.  You arrive and introduce yourself as the neighbor as the paramedic wheels out a catatonic man and asks you to secure the house so they can make their trip to the Emergency Room.  You agree, walk into the house to check the doors and realize that you can’t get to the back door because stacks of newspaper, clothing, household items, and rotting groceries make passage impossible.  You try other doorways to find a workaround, but every room is similarly packed.  You walk the narrow trail through a room, and it leads to the garage.  There you find dozens of bags of yard soil, plants, gardening tools, garbage bags, and unused fertilizer surrounding a car so completely that the only empty space is what exists vertically above the car.

At that moment you realize that your neighbor may have been a meticulous gardener for the EXTERIOR of the home, but a mental illness called “hoarding” has made the INTERIOR a wasteland of ruin and rot.

Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his day with a similar assessment:  “You are whitewashed tombs.  You paint the outside, but inside are death and decay.”  Appearances and reality are often quite different.  A dilapidated exterior can still reflect a loving family within the home; but a beautiful exterior can hide deep-seated agony and mental imprisonment.

I believe that this is the greatest, most important challenge of faith in Christ–that we allow Him to cleanse the INSIDE of our souls, not just the OUTSIDE appearances of religiousness.  The life He offers is one of great liberation, even when it’s colored by suffering, mistakes, and disappointments.  The life that we often settle for is a pretense of upright appearances while we hide our inner entrapment.

So, to all who felt trapped by keeping up appearances, Jesus called graciously, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  “Let me clean up the INSIDE, and the outside will take care of itself.”

Ready to let Him do some housecleaning at your place?


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