In a burst of manic energy, I did some de-cluttering in my office. I’d needed to do it for a long time and it felt really good having some breathing space in there.
While I was cleaning, I managed to shed the equivalent of six banker’s boxes of paper, numerous items for the local charity discount store, the banker’s boxes themselves and even a bowling ball. I’m proud to say that all the items were recycled and didn’t find their way to a landfill. At least not by me.
Months later when I was planning my move from a two bedroom to a one bedroom apartment, I was forced to take a hard look at everything I owned. The Lord had directed me to simplify my life and this move was part of it. I would have to release some of my possessions. I wasn’t being asked to give up everything, but I was being asked to consider what really matters.
As far as material possessions are concerned, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19,21).
The most important thing, Jesus said, if we want to be his disciples is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him (Luke 9:23). This is how we find real meaning in our lives. (Mark 8:35, 36)
As I worked through the physical de-cluttering, I thought of some of the things that have cluttered up my heart and kept me from following Jesus according to his invitation. I praise God that he is helping me also release:
specific rules of men having no bearing on my salvation
resentments over hurts caused by others
Without God’s help, de-cluttering my heart would be impossible. I haven’t the strength to let go of such things, because my “self” is so wrapped up in them. I also know that, just as I de-cluttered my home, there’s an ongoing process in which God prompts me to let go of those things that hinder my walk with him.
At times I hear a voice of rationalization: “This just might come in handy sometime.” But if I’m honest with myself, I see that voice for what it is. Hanging on to the old attitudes and behaviors is the equivalent of hanging onto material stuff. (Like a bowling ball I haven’t used in years.) They’re just not working anymore.
Those things drag me down and keep me from living in freedom. That saying about the things you own eventually coming to own you is true. I know because I’ve experienced it.
I know what it is to be ensnared by evil. To live in a cage of fear. To have no hope. Remembering what the darkness was like reminds me to be grateful for what I’ve been given and to freely give what’s been so freely given to me.
“De-cluttering” is part of the work God’s Spirit does for us when we choose to follow Christ. The Lord may not ask us to give up all our earthly goods, but he’ll certainly be there to help clean us up on the inside.
When I open my hand to let go of my “clutter” and let God work in my life, I discover what really matters. With an open hand I’m in a position to receive what he has to give. Then I can pour it out for others.