There's no telling how the idea of "spring cleaning" became a thing, but around this time of year, you and I—and zillions of other folks—are strangely compelled to dig through closets and boxes hiding in our attics or garages. Right? We hear ourselves saying, "It’s time to do something about all this." So, we jump in and we’re usually glad we did.
Whether you take the challenge now or some other time, the reality is that if you don’t go through your things, one day someone else will. It’s true. When you’re dead, people will go through everything . . . your boxes and files, your browsing history, texts and emails, your receipts and bank records, your closets and junk drawers. Nothing will be hidden from their inquisition. Nothing will be out of bounds.
Everything will be on display.
These folks rummaging through your effects may be delighted at the treasures they find, like my friend who discovered a bunch of cash in her late husband’s desk drawer. Or maybe they’ll find things that sadden them. And because you won’t be there to explain what’s confusing or to apologize for unfortunate discoveries, these people may find themselves unhappily surprised.
But here’s a word of hope: "It’s not too late to do something about the things your survivors are going to find."
A now deceased, world-renowned thinker, apologist, speaker, and author was my friend. By that, I don’t mean we met once in a television Green Room. He really was my friend.
As his literary agent, I was involved in nearly every book he wrote, negotiating, along with my colleagues, the publishers’ contracts. He and I texted often, even when he was globetrotting. Especially when he was globetrotting.
The week he died, in the spring of 2020, I studied photos his family posted on social media, especially the ones near the end of his life. I wept at the sight of my failing friend.
When we die, people are going to go through our things. All our things. Every single shred. Of everything.
But in the months that followed, troubling things about this once-revered man began to surface. Secrets. Disquieting news began to seep out about a life it turned out he had been living in the dark. Decades-long, disgraceful behavior he had managed to keep hidden from public view came to light. Few of those who thought they knew him best had any idea of his life in the shadows until after his passing.
I mention this man for one reason only. A point I hope you and I never forget. When we die, people are going to go through our things. All our things. Every single shred. Of everything.
Stuff hidden away in desks and closets or in cardboard boxes in the attic or basement or in storage. These are going to be foraged. This audit will also include electronic documents and things we’ve done online. Words we’ve said . . . or emailed . . . or texted will be uncovered, disclosing things we’ve spoken or written.
Jesus referred to this future reality: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" (Luke 12:2–3).
To summarize: "It’s all coming into the light someday."
In the context of hiding things while we’re alive and the reality that people will comb through everything after we’re dead, this verse is like a fastball screaming toward your chin. A wake-up call on steroids.
Jesus knows about folks pilfering through our archives after our bodies are room temperature. When we’re dead, there will be no more secrets.
So, what’s the takeaway here?
Bring every secret into the light now. Acknowledge the truth about things you’ve tried to hide. Before you say anything to anyone, tell God. Though He already knows all about it, He waits for us to humbly confess. And when we do, He is willing to forgive, give a fresh start, change us, and redeem the brokenness of our past. So take it to Him first.
Then, tell those who are affected by these hidden things—your family and significant others—that you have revealed this to your Heavenly Father and now, along with His forgiveness, you’re seeking theirs.
Bring every secret into the light now. Acknowledge the truth about things you’ve tried to hide.
Here’s a simple picture that may help you take the plunge. Imagine you’re standing in chest-deep water down at the swimmin’ hole. You’re holding a huge beach ball just under the surface. Because others cannot see it, no one knows it’s there. But holding the ball down, out of sight, is exhausting. Then you decide to let it go. When you do, it nearly explodes in a huge splash as it surfaces.
When you release the things you’ve been holding down, things you’ve kept hidden from others, the splash that results may feel messy and uncomfortable. But in the end, you’ll be free from the exertion required to keep the secret covered.
Resolve now to stop living a lie. Let the truth come into the light. Get help if you need it. It may be painful initially, but how much more painful it will be for those who will stumble on these secrets when you’re gone, leaving them embarrassed, heartbroken, shocked . . . angry.
Remember what Jesus said about things hidden in darkness eventually being seen in the light? Why not turn the light on while you’re still alive?
Carefully evaluate your life—not just the parts the public can see, but also any secrets you’ve been keeping under wraps, thinking they will never be known. And one day, as the living peel back through your life and find nothing of which you would be ashamed, what a gift you will have left to those who knew and loved you.
It’ll take some time to search through everything. But doing this will save your survivors the headache and—in some cases—the confusion or heartbreak—of doing it without you. You’ve heard it said that "there’s no more powerful disinfectant than sunlight."
I think that works here, don’t you?