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The CHURCH HYMNAL:  “Cleanse Me”

Bill Lloyd
Bill Lloyd

On December 8, 2016 – just over three weeks from the intended January 2017 publication of this article – I entered a St. Louis hospital for major surgery.  My urologist/ surgeon claimed I had a tumor on my left kidney, and he added it was definitely cancerous.  I don’t even recall being wheeled into the operating room that morning, but I do remember being taken to a small private room following the surgery.

 
All I really remember of the time following the surgery is seeing my siblings waiting just outside that hospital room.  It was so good to “see them,” although I was still out of it somewhat when the hospital bed was put in place at 6:45 PM. 
 
When I finally opened my eyes for good, I looked around and took silent inventory of the close quarters.  I felt really closed in, but the presence of family members helped me immensely.  One thing I do remember after settling in that room is looking to my left and trying to focus my eyes.  I then turned to my siblings, and with a slurred speech, I asked, “Is – that – a – window?”  So much for my “inventory” of the tiny hospital room! 
 
Although my personal inventory of that room revealed very little, I did learn the next day the results of the surgery.  The pathology report revealed the surgeon got ALL the tumor and cancer, and I have NO need of chemo or radiation.  To this I say, “PRAISE GOD!”
 
Yet, I was kinda disappointed, at the time, when I realized my Christmas season would be hindered due to the surgery and subsequent recovery.  Many of my Christmas plans would need to be put on hold.  But talking to the Lord in prayer, and then texting and talking on the phone with family members and friends gave me great strength in the days that followed.  I was discharged from the hospital just five days later
 
All seemed to go well following my release on the 13th of that month.  Just six days later, I returned to the hospital to have the staples removed.  But little did I know I’d be making another trip back to the same hospital on Christmas Eve – of all days – and this trip was to be made by ambulance. 
 
A setback earlier that day made it necessary for me to call 911 and spend the next 11 days in the hospital once again.  And as it might be expected, I found myself taking “inventory” of yet another small hospital room.  Another window, another wall clock, another TV on the wall, and the usual medical equipment next to my bed, plus a couple of chairs.
 
It was only fitting that I would take “inventories” of the hospital rooms I was in during much of December and early January, for that time of year is typically the time when many businesses take year-end inventory.  
 
I recall my 35 years of employment with a well-known department store chain – and how each January our store would take detailed inventory to record all the merchandise we had on hand.  Through taking inventory, we would also learn the condition of our store, whether it was gaining in sales, losing money, or if we were simply holding our own.
 
That time of year was dreaded by each worker, but the work of inventory was something that had to be done.  Even more so, the counting of ALL merchandise had to be absolutely accurate.
 
For several days in advance of the scheduled night of inventory, each employee had to get dirty, if necessary, to clean out ALL the areas surrounding their individual workplace; dark and hidden places that had gone untouched for the past several months.  Associates in each department had to get down on their hands and knees and remove unnecessary things that had collected in every cubbyhole over the time. 
 
Over the past year, many associates working near the cash wraps would store items inside, such things as sweaters, coffee mugs, hand-written reminders, etc. –– JUST in case they had need of them while they were at work.  But ALL these “hidden” things had to go as we prepared for inventory.
 
In other cases, there were old store circulars, out-dated coupons or other things that did not belong underneath the cash register.  Personal items were to be taken home or discarded, and the storage area was to be vacuumed out to be free of “stuff,” as well as layers of dust.  Following the general clean-out, nothing was to be found underneath the registers, other than paper bags, register tape, credit card machines, or other supplies necessary to complete a customer’s transaction. 
 
The times of special cleaning might also lead us to finding garments placed there earlier.  It was also important to clean EVERY area throughout the store – both on the sales floor AND in the stockroom.  No item, regardless how small, could be overlooked.    
 
Our store closed early on the day of inventory.  Each area within the store was marked on a grid, so nothing would be missed in counting.  Was it fun doing this grimy, detailed work before the inventory would begin?  Absolutely not, but it was necessary it be done.  AND it was also necessary that every store did the same for the benefit of the entire corporation!
 
You hear on TV almost every day where thieves have burglarized jewelry stores, cell phone stores, and other businesses of high-priced items through a “smash ‘n grab.”  Without fail, you’ll hear news reporters the next morning tell how the store will be closed temporarily for a complete inventory to learn their total loss.
 
For the Christian, there is also a necessary time of personal inventory of the heart.   This “inventory,” however, should be completed far more often than just once or twice a year, or when one experiences personal tragedy or loss.  This personal inspection of the heart should be taken daily.  The Psalmist said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart:  try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be ANY wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).  
 
WHY must the Christian take personal inventory of the heart so frequently?  For one, we need to see just how much we are blessed, and if we even acknowledge our blessings.  In 1897, Johnson Oatman, Jr. made reference to “inventory” of one’s life when he wrote in song:  “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” 
 
But through another song – and one found in “the old Red Back book” CHURCH HYMNAL – you’ll find an old hymn often overlooked in this 21st century.  Songwriters Edwin Orr and John McNeill began this song, “Search me, O God, and know my heart today; Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray; See if there be some wicked way in me; Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.”
 
Verse three then states:  “Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;  Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine;  Take all my will, my passion, self and pride; I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.”
 
One reason why this song is overlooked by many Christians today is they do NOT want God to actually “search” their heart and life closely, if at all.  Without a doubt, many will remember how it was told in the Old Testament of Achan.  His sin was indeed found out.  You’ll also remember it being written in Numbers 32:23, “…be SURE your sin will find you out.”
 
Many businesses today now hire inventory specialists to record everything found on the store shelves, and they do so electronically.  That method of outside accounting may work well for businesses, but it is not applicable for the Christian.  According to 2 Corinthians 13:5, we’re told we should, Examine YOURSELVES, whether ye be in the faith; PROVE YOUR OWN SELVES.”
 
This same verse, found in the Amplified Bible, reads this way: “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as counterfeit?
 
When we as Christians take personal inventory, we should examine things in our own life through the Word of God, beginning with:
Our CONSECRATION:  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,HOLY, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”(Romans 12:1).
Our CONDUCT:  “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Our INFLUENCE:  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Our LOVE:  “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ~  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17,18).
Our ATTITUDE –– Toward CHRIST: (John 14:15). ~  Toward OUR BRETHREN: (Galatians 5:13).  ~  and Toward OURSELVES(Romans 12:3).
 
We, as Christians, serve a Holy God.  One day, if we’re right with God, we’ll be going to a Holy Place called Heaven.  With all this in mind, it is a must that we live a HOLY life here on Earth.  We’re reminded in Ephesians 5:27, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be HOLY and without blemish.”
 
With store inventories in mind, as well as my preparation of going to Heaven, I choose to get down on my knees daily and take an accurate and personal spiritual inventory of my life.  IT’S A MUST! How about you?
 
–– Bill 
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Formed over 19 years ago by Deon & Susan Unthank originally as SoGospelNews.com, the site was birthed from an email discussion group by the same name. The SoGospelNews email discussion list was created by the Unthanks after the Singing News shut down its extremely popular discussion list. SoGospelNews started as a simple webpage listing artists, fans, individuals, etc. that were avid supporters of the newly formed SoGospelNews talk list. The site eventually took on printing news for Southern Gospel artists, and eventually took on reviewing the latest recordings from both signed and independent artists within the small genre. SoGospelNews became the most viewed Southern Gospel website on the Internet with over 4,000,000 hits per month.

The Unthank family are now involved in the site, as well as the addition of over two dozen staff writers. The website is based out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In April 2010, SoGospelNews changed its name to AbsolutelyGospel.com. The name change allows them to cover news items of not only Southern Gospel, but also Country Gospel, Inspirational, and Black Gospel.

On January 5, 2011, Susan Unthank passed away, leaving the website in control of Deon, their son, Chris, and their daughter Amy.

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