Although the hour was late, I couldn’t sleep. There was something menacing in my closet that prevented me from turning out the light.
I had always been afraid of closets at night. Once I saw two glowing eyes staring at me from the half-open door. My mom said it was my alarm clock reflecting off my silver shoes, but I knew better. Closets were meant to hide things—scary things—that no one else should see. That’s why my mom locked our closets when company came over.
Once, when I was playing hide and seek, I opened my parents’ closet, and the things I saw in there still give me nightmares. The menace in my own closet began when I learned it was easy to clean my room by shoving everything into my closet. But what went in often never came out. And now, something evil was growing in there.
When the doorbell rang late on that dark night, I was reluctant to answer.
“I saw your light on,” Jesus said when I opened the door. “May I come in?”
He had been coming over a lot lately to help me redecorate the house. He had suggested the week before that we start on the bedroom next, so I wasn’t surprised when He asked to see it. But instead of complementing me on my immaculate room, He looked directly at the closet.
“What’s in there?” He asked.
“It’s private,” I said.
“Mind if I take a look?”
He was about to open the door when I stopped Him. “You don’t want to do this,” I whispered. “It’s scary.”
“I can handle it,” He said.
I held my breath as He opened the door. A deluge of papers, clothes, boxes, and garbage engulfed Him. I pulled the bed covers over my head. But when I peaked out a second later, Jesus was unmoved, calmly surveying the mess. I was embarrassed. But then I got angry when He pulled out a garbage bag.
“You can’t throw all this out!” I protested. “I need it.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” He said.
The first thing he picked up wad of paper slips. I recognized them immediately.
“Those are my inadequacies,” I volunteered. “I’ve got a record of every time I came up short when something was expected of me. I’ve received them for being an inadequate parent, friend, role model, housekeeper, cook, teacher—and of course, an inadequate Christian.”
“Why are you keeping these?” Jesus asked.
“To keep me humble,” I said.
He frowned. “Can I trash these for you?”
Without asking me, He gathered all my anxieties and worries. As He was dumping them into His bag by the handful, I said, “You’d better save a few. Otherwise, You and I won’t have anything to talk about.”
He laughed and threw them all out anyway.
I got excited when He threw out my stack of To Do Lists. I wouldn’t miss those.
By the time He found my collection of painful memories, I was really in the mood to clean house. “Throw them out!” I shouted. “I never want to see those again.”
“These you should keep,” Jesus said. When I demanded why, He tucked them into His robe, smiled, and said gently, “I can turn these into something special.”
The huge pile of clothes was next. Jesus seemed particularly interested in my T-shirts. One had “Fat” printed on the front, another “Idiot,” and another “Failure.” He raised an eyebrow and glanced at me.
“I wear those!” I protested. “They’re my favorites!”
“They’re ugly!” He could be brutally honest sometimes. “Why don’t you wear the pretty clothes I bought for you?”
“I can’t find them.”
He sorted through the clothes and pulled out the lovely wardrobe I had forgotten I owned.
Near the back of the closet He found items hidden in paper sacks and cardboard boxes. As He pulled them out, I recognized dreams, talents, and blessings He had given me that I had hidden and forgotten.
“These don’t belong in a closet,” He said. “Beautiful things should be out where you and others can enjoy them.”
Then He arranged them tastefully throughout the house. I couldn’t believe the way they brightened up the place.
“We’re done,” He finally said as he tied up his garbage sack.
“How did all that trash fit in one bag?” I asked.
He winked at me and held out a nail-scarred hand. “Let me show you how the closet looks now.”
I squealed with delight when I looked inside. The place that had once caused me fear and sleepless nights was sparkling clean and almost empty except for my rediscovered clothes and the accessories neatly organized on the shelf.
“This is my new favorite room!” I said. “I wish I could live here.”
“It’s the smallest room in the house.”
Jesus laughed and said, “Are You sure?”
With that, He drew my clothes aside, and the back wall of the closet melted away to reveal a world I had previously only dreamed about.
“This is your private entrance to My world,” He said. “You can come in any time you like. There are no limits to the surprises, adventures, and delights you’ll find here. And as long as your closet is clean, you’ll always be able to enter.”
I was about to thank Him when I remembered my habit of shoving everything into the closet. “I won’t be able to keep it this clean,” I said.
He smiled. “I’ll help you.”
I slept peacefully that night and almost every night thereafter.
I go into the closet frequently now. Because it’s private, I’m not going to tell you what Jesus and I do in the special world we share. But I can tell you one thing; occasionally, we look at a painful memory. Jesus lets me see it from His perspective, and slowly, those times of hurt and are miraculously turning to moments of joy. He was right, of course, about saving them.
Occasionally, my closet gets dirty again, but Jesus always shows up to clean it out for me.
And, (for my future benefit, He promises), He’s teaching me a better way to clean my room.
Psalms 51:6 “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make known to me Your wisdom.”