The Time Has Come to Clean

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans looked at her mother with dismay. “I don’t want to clean my room!” she wailed. “I like it the way it is!”

Mom tried not to laugh. “I know,” she said. “But the time has come.”

“Why do I have to clean my room just because Aunt Bud is coming?” Mac asked. “Aunt Bud’s not going to sleep in it. She’s going to sleep in the spare room!”

This time Mom didn’t laugh. “You are going to clean your room because your room needs cleaning,” she said.

“Will you help me?” Mac asked as pitifully as possible.

“Sure,” Mom answered cheerfully. “I’ll suggest the first thing you should do. And when you have finished that, come tell me, and I’ll suggest what you should do next.”

“That doesn’t sound like a lot of help!” Mac grumbled. “Oh, well, what should I do first?”

Mom looked around. “Pick up and put away all the clothes that are not where they belong. And put all your shoes on the shoe rack.”

Mac sighed as Mom left. She really didn’t mean to let her room get so messy. It just sort of happened. It seemed like some mornings she just woke up, and nothing was where it belonged. She giggled. Maybe there were silent explosions in the night that scattered everything.

Mac picked her purple overalls off the floor and looked at them. Dirty. She tossed them in the clothesbasket where her dirty clothes were supposed to be. She fished her favorite T-shirt out from under the bed. It went into the dirty clothesbasket as well.

Finally, all her clothes were either properly folded and put away in their drawers, hung neatly in the closet, or piled in the laundry basket waiting to be washed. She was tempted, but Mac didn’t cheat by putting all her clothes in the laundry. All her shoes were lined up on the shoe rack. Mac looked around. She took a deep breath. Her room looked better already.

“What do I do next?” she called to Mom.

“Put on some peppy music,” Mom called back.

Mac grinned. She rummaged through the papers on top of the desk for her favorite praise tape and put it in the cassette player.

What now? Maybe she should clean the desktop. Mac looked at each of the papers strewn there. Some she stacked carefully to save. Some she stuck in the wastebasket. She put all her new gel pens together in the top drawer. She put her scissors, and her glue sticks, and her pencils, and her ruler away.

Mac looked around again. Books. Stuffed animals. Balls of yarn. Boxes of beads, and puzzle pieces. There was still an awful lot of stuff littering the floor. It sure was a lot more fun getting things out and working on projects than it was putting them away!

“Here,” Mom said, appearing in the doorway. She handed Mac an apple juice popsicle. “I thought maybe you could use a little break.”

“Thanks!” Mac exclaimed. She sat down on the bed and licked the frozen sweetness.

Mom sat down beside her. “I see progress already,” she said. “And I promise you won’t have to work in here cleaning while Aunt Bud is visiting. You can be with her and enjoy her.”

“I wish Aunt Bud was here all the time!” Mac said. “Tell me again why you call her Bud.”

Mom smiled. “You know her real name is Rose. But she was so tiny and cute when she was born that I thought we should have named her Rosebud. So I always called her Bud. It was my special nickname for her. She didn’t like it very well when she was growing up,” Mom recalled, “but she doesn’t seem to mind now.”

“Getting ready for Aunt Bud to come is kind of like getting ready for Sabbath,” Mac said. “We’re doing our work ahead of time so we can not worry about it and have fun while she’s here.”

“I’m sure glad Sabbath comes more often than Aunt Bud does!” Mom said. “God gave us a great gift when He gave us a whole day every week to rest, worship Him, and forget about our everyday worries. When the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt for those 400 years, they never had a day to rest. Slaves had to work seven days a week, all year long. When God rescued His children from Egypt, and gave them the Ten Commandments, and reminded them about the Sabbath day of rest, they must have thought it was incredibly wonderful!”

“I like Sabbath too,” Mac said. “I like going to Sabbath School, and I like it that Dad doesn’t have to go to work.” She slurped the last of the popsicle into her mouth. “Thank you,” she said, giving Mom back the plastic handle to use again another time. She grinned. “And you don’t even have to tell me what to do next! I’m going to pick up all the stuff on the floor.”