I remember Christmas when I was a little girl. The favorite Christmas albums. The favorite ornaments. The hunt for the perfect Christmas tree that we would cut down ourselves.

And the cleaning. Oh, my, the cleaning.

Because we would be hosting guests, cleaning took on an epic feel. We expended a lot of time and energy on cleaning all the things. We paid attention to every detail. To every nook and cranny. Of course, compared to all the fun things there were to do, all the food there was to enjoy, all the celebrating there was to come, having to clean felt like the chore it was.

It was work. And I didn’t want to work. I wanted to play. I wanted to enjoy myself. I wanted to have fun.

And honestly, as a grown up, I’m not sure I’ve changed all that much, really. Not when it comes to Christmas. I’m still not interested in the cleaning and the tidying and the making room in order to decorate and celebrate Christmas.

But, if I don’t do those things, I find that the decorating isn’t anything more than clutter in the midst of a mess. The beauty of the tree or the inspiration of the nativity set is swallowed up by the chaos of my life.

And, so, although I have not changed much as an adult because I’d rather play and have fun, I understand the need to clean all the things.

Especially when it comes to my heart. Or my marriage. Or my attitudes.

Which is why I have embraced Psalm 139 as part of my Advent journey this year. As part of the hard work of cleaning out the clutter of my heart. As part of preparing my heart for the Christ child. I look forward to the celebration, but I am also looking forward to the work of getting ready.

Psalm 139

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

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