Cleaning And Hiding

August 5, 2016
by Evelyn Witmer

When I was a child living on a farm in southern Ontario, we had no electricity or running water. We also had two wood stoves. There were no chimney sweeps, so father cleaned the chimney, but our mother and we kids cleaned the stovepipes.

I remember one particular day when we were cleaning the pipes. We wore our very oldest clothes, because if we got that soot on our clothes, it was hard to get out. We took the pipes apart to clean the soot out of the inside. Each section of pipe needed to be scrubbed vigorously inside with a wire brush to remove the build-up of creosote. Wow! We were black with the soot.

In the midst of this, just guess who drives down our laneway but the minister (yes, in those days, ministers did make house calls). Mother said, "We cannot let anyone see us like this!" We were all to hide until he gave up and left.

This particular minister would probably have helped us with our cleanup, and mother was not embarrassed or ashamed, but considerate in regard to not putting others in an awkward position for dropping by at an inopportune time. In any case, she couldn't let anyone see her like that.

This memory of cleaning the stovepipes brings to my mind the words of Jesus:

Matthew 23:25-26 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (NIV)

Jesus meant that our lives are to be clean on the inside as well as on the outside. My desire is to have my life to be clean both inside and outside, and not to be embarrassed to be seen by anyone.

How about you?

Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your grace in cleaning the soot out of our insides and for polishing our outsides so that we may shine for You and not be embarrassed. Amen.

About the author:

Evelyn Witmer <evelynwitmer@rogers.com>
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Well done. Thanks.


    Great analogy Evelyn.


    I will go along with you!


    Way to go, Evelyn! Very good devotional message.


    I was surprised when I was asked a few months ago about where to find a chimney sweep.


    Gosh I remember my mother being embarrassed that the minister came and a pile of unfolded laundry sat on the rocking chair. So true!!


    Evelyn, Oh my, the image of soot covered children was so very vivid as I read. What a great analogy to sin’s effect on us, inside and out. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.


    Hi Evelyn,
    Thanks for today’s devotional. I too remember cleaning the stovepipes.
    Makes me think of what I might need to “brush out” today.


    Good morning!
    Your meditation and the image of the stove pipes gave an image and lesson which are inescapable! Good on you!


    Very well done, Evelyn. And knowing you, I’d say you have done a good job of cleaning the inside as well as the outside.
    Hope to see more devotionals from both you and Ross.


    Thank you for such a good message. Anyone who has had a wood fireplace or stove knows all about the build up of soot. Thank you for reminding us to clean out the emotional soot that is being allowed to fester inside our minds, damaging our spiritual thoughts and actions. Thank you for a well written devotional.


    Hi Evelyn:
    A great message reminding us our heavenly Father sees the inside as well as the outside of our lives and actions and therefore we must only not talk the talk, but walk the Christian walk every day of our lives.
    I know we all stumble and fall, but we are assured Christ will pick us up, brush us off and allow us to remain steadfast and secure in His family.
    Have a pleasant day and thank you for reminding us to be sure we have no soot in the inside.


    Thank you so much for sharing your childhood memory this morning.
    My dad a hardware store and you brought back memories of selling stovepipe. We girls helped in the store and had to learn the sizing and run to the basement of the store when customers in need.
    We still have stove pipe (now with propane heating) in our rural century old farm house. You brought a smile to my face.
    Thanks for writing, keep it up.


    When I think of ministers’ visits, I always remember the night my mom passed away. For some reason, my older siblings decided that was a good night to clean out our walk-in coat closet. We pulled everything out into the middle of the living room floor and began to shovel through all the mitts, scarves, hats, etc that children can accumulate. Of course, just as we started, the minister stopped in.
    He was very gracious (though even at 11 years old, I was embarrassed) and told us that in times of grief, many people stop to do the mundane things in life in order to feel in control of something and keep their minds occupied.
    It has been many, many years but I am still thankful to him for putting our minds at ease. I have been reminded of it many times and when I get stressed, I still tend to start cleaning silly things.


    Dear Evelyn:
    Thank you very much, for your highly interesting and eye-opening Devotional.
    I guess, we have some things in common.
    My wife and I and our two children have also lived on a farm in southern Ontario. The difference being is that we did not grow up on a farm but grew up in a city and moved in here 40 years ago and love it here.
    However, we have never experienced the same hardships you describe so vividly. We were blessed with more modern, comfortable facilities when we moved in here.
    Anyway, thanks again.
    Blessings.


    Hi Evelyn,
    I remember our minister coming to our house for house calls also. A great story and a great devotional!


    Dear Evelyn,
    Thank you so much for this devotional. It brings up my memories when I was cleaning our wood stove pipes with my grandmother. She always said: if we do this in summer time we will rejoice in winter time. If we won’t do something today, tomorrow we might get more head ache for being lazy.
    I hope you are doing much better.
    May the Lord continue to bless you.


    Hey Evelyn,
    Your story “soots” me fine! Great devotional.
    Thanks for this and a jog down memory lane.
    God bless you.


    Hello dear Evelyn,
    I got the chance to read an impressive story about cleaning the chimney and the wooden stovepipes. The analogy of cleaning the outside of the cup and dish and leaving the inside full of greed and self-indulgence was very beautifully illustrated. Needless to say, you are a talented writer beyond the words can ever describe. Wishing you all the best in your writing career.
    Blessings.


    Dear Evelyn,
    A beautiful devotional of God’s grace. Thank you.
    It reminds me of the chorus, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Jesus does that with his red blood!
    Keep writing.

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