Sometime around age 14 I decided that my bedroom needed a major overhaul. I basically woke up one morning and realized that my disaster of a room wasn't as cool as I thought. It didn't communicate independence and freedom as I previously believed. In fact I was suddenly pretty sure that it communicated that I myself was a disheveled disaster.
As I gazed around the room, I noticed that the most noticeable visual offender was the stack of decrepit and dilapidated CB radios on the shelf closest to the door. I had gathered these from garage sales over the years, a hobby I inherited from my grandfather. Most of them were not working, but a man can never have enough CB radios. My conversations with passing truckers on the nearby highway were often salty and a great place for me to learn new words I could throw around at school.
I decided that this CB graveyard would be the starting point for my full frontal attack on the clutter in my room. After clearing the shelf and inhaling a whole farm of dust-bunnies, I stared at the newly resurrected shelf and wondered what should replace my communicative toys.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was a collection of dusty trophies. These were mostly obligatory "great attitude" or "most improved" type trophies. Most kids who were at my caliber of play knew that they really should read, "you used to suck worse" or "thanks for not quitting and making me look like a bad coach". I dusted them off and placed them neatly side by side on the shelf. Regardless of the means by which I obtained them, they were a bit of a treasure to me.
I was recently reading when Jesus said that casting out demons, while amazing and supernatural, was not the fix that a demonized person required. In fact he went so far to say that if you remove an "unclean spirit" from the space of someone's body, and don't follow up with a replacing of that same space with the Spirit, that the person is actually worse off. Not only that, but he mentions that the demon would return and find "the house swept and put in order". Those words bounced around my head for a bit, as I wondered what that means and if I knew what that looks like.
Immediately I began thinking of all the people that taste the things of the Kingdom, and maybe even experience a season of victory over an area of struggle, but quickly resort to tactics of self-reliance. They start removing the things that cause them to struggle but never address the issue of treasuring Jesus, making him utmost, and loving His kingship. The picture we have in Scripture of repenting has 2 parts: then turning from, and the turning toward. Yet the turning from is what is emphasized and what most people identify as repentance. I've assuredly seen this in my own actions and felt this in my own chest.
There are very few guarantees in life, but I feel confident guaranteeing that if you remove temptation, modify behaviors, or resolve to change but never receive and treasure Jesus, it is only a matter of time before things go back to the old way or even get worse.
Jesus isn't looking for clean shelves. He is interested in being our treasure and filling our shelves with the things that only He can provide. The beautiful experience of walking with Christ, is that when He is your trophy on the shelf, the rest of your house looks different. He takes your life of disarray and breathes peace and change into the messiest of rooms.
24"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' 25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first."