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The Key to the Closet

by Natalie Lynn Borton

[photo credit]

Have you ever investigated your own heart to discover that there’s something dead and rotting inside, something that you want to keep for yourself and refuse to hand over to the Lord?

Last summer while I was visiting my family on the east coast, we attended our church in Massachusetts called Church in the Pines. Pastor Joel shared a story from Robert B. Munger called “My Heart, Christ’s Home” that really resonated with my soul. It’s a fictional story of a man welcoming Jesus into his home, which is a metaphor for his heart. Jesus walks through the study, the dining room, the living room, the workroom and the rec room, and in each room the author recognizes things that are not of God, and asks Jesus to clean it up for him.

Eventually, they came to the hall closet, which is where the author kept the secret things he wanted to hide from God and keep in his control:

There is just one more matter that I might share with you. One day I found Him waiting for me at the door. An arresting look was in His eye. As I entered, He said to me, “There is a peculiar odor in the house. There is something dead around here. It’s upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet.” As soon as He said this, I knew what He was talking about. Yes, there was a small closet up there on the landing, just a few feet square, and in that closet, behind lock and key, I had one or two little personal things that I did not want anyone to know about and certainly I did not want Christ to see them. I knew they were dead and rotting things left over from the old life. And yet I loved them, and I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there.

Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we mounted the stairs the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed at the door. “It’s in there! Some dead thing!”

I was angry. That’s the only way I can put it. I had given Him access to the library, the dining room, the living room, the workroom, the playroom, and now He was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said to myself, “This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key.”

“Well,” He said, reading my thoughts, “if you think I’m going to stay up here on the second floor with this odor, you are mistaken. I will take my bed out on the back porch. I’m certainly not going to put up with that.” Then I saw Him start down the stairs.

When you have come to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen is to sense His fellowship retreating from you. I had to surrender. “I’ll give You the key,” I said sadly, “but You’ll have to open the closet and clean it out. I haven’t the strength to do it.”

“I know,” He said. “I know you haven’t. Just give me the key. Just authorize me to take care of that closet and I will.” So with trembling fingers I passed the key to Him. He took it from my hand, walked over to the door, opened it, entered it, took out all the putrefying stuff that was rotting there, and threw it away. The He cleaned the closet and painted it, fixed it up, doing it all in a moment’s time. Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!

Jesus loves to spend time with us, and deeply desires to dwell in our hearts; but He will not put up with partial disclosure. He wants all of us, not just the parts we want to give over to Him. He wants to be the keeper and Lord of the house. I think the most beautiful and comforting part of the story is when the author gives over the key and admits that He cannot clean the closet himself. Once he humbles himself to authorize Jesus to clean the closet, Jesus tells him that was all He wanted in the first place. He just needs the key. He just needs authorization.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for us to give up control and let Jesus heal us?

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