Still Working on the Bucket List

In the space within my home I call the “Bedroom/Office,” are both a two-drawer and a four-drawer file cabinet. They share that space with two small desks, two small dressers, and my twin bed. There’s very little floor space left, but I make do.

Recently I began the process of eliminating one more item on my Bucket List: “Reduce my files down to one four-drawer file cabinet.”

Presently, I’m plowing through the records in my four-drawer file cabinet and all the three-ring binders looking for stuff. I’m looking for stuff I don’t need, stuff I still need, and stuff that’s “iffy.” Some of it I wonder why I thought I needed it in the first place.

The process, after I discover those things I don’t need, is to toss that stuff into the recyclable office paper box. Those things I decide I want to keep are put in a folder, taken to the library and scanned in pdf format onto a flash drive. Then they go in the recycling box with the rest.

I’m big on recycling and this project is big on my Bucket List because the less I have in my home when I kick the bucket, the easier it will be on my children to clean up what’s left.

As I do the work of de-cluttering my physical world, I always think of how the Holy Spirit is transforming me into the likeness of Christ the same way. Some things are kept. For instance, God doesn’t take away the personality he gave me; now he’s refining it. He gave me talents that I’ve had since I was a child; now he prompts me to use them for his kingdom.

Working through the process of de-cluttering also makes me think of some of the things that have cluttered up my spiritual life.They need to go. While God transforms me, he helps me get rid of

  • Specific rules of men that have no bearing on my salvation
  • Shame or unearned guilt over past sins
  • Resentment or bitterness over the hurts others did to me
  • Worry

The key is wanting to let go of them. I know that, just like with de-cluttering my bedroom/office, I’ll always need to take inventory of my spiritual life to see what needs to go. I tend to look at some of my stuff and believe “That just might come in handy sometime.” I suppose the parallel to that is recycling the constant stream of junk mail. Rarely do I need to hang onto junk mail.

Unless it’s a coupon for coffee.

Time to De-Clutter

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
worry

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.