I am amazed at how much stuff we gathered! Of course having a 6 year old assures an enormous assortment of useless "happy meal" toys. About myself, I learned that apparently I find it impossible to either throw away or recycle magazines. I found some that I have kept for at least as long as tax records.
In 17 years of married life, we have lived in 5 houses – not exactly vagabonds, but not stationary either. Our first move was in 1996 when we left Cadwell, Georgia to move to Raleigh, NC. Unbelievably, we found boxes of stuff from that move. We had opened some of those boxes, and we had removed and used some of the contents, but the original boxes and many of the original contents were still in place. Who says cardboard is biodegradable?
We discovered three different types of things in our cleanup effort. We found memories that warmed our hearts and reminded us of old friends and good times. These memories will last a life time and they serve to strengthen us for the journey ahead. Also we found items that we forgot we owned but now needed. Some boxes became early Christmas presents.
But mostly, we found things destined for the trash. These items were no longer usable or useful and in some cases we wondered where we got them or why we still had them. I donated three very full truckloads to the local landfill. These things served to remind me of the need regularly to clean out the clutter from our spiritual lives. The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we desire to run effectively the "race of life" we will need to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us." (Hebrews 12:1)
Let me suggest some "spring cleaning" for your heart:
1 – Confess all of your known sin. God promises to forgive every sin and cleanse from all unrighteousness if we will simply admit those sins to him – own up to them and then take them to the dump. (1 John 1:9)
2 – Forgive those who have wronged you. I am not saying you should just pretend nothing happened and give people a free pass. In fact, until you deal honestly with how someone hurt you, you will never get past it. Admit the hurt, but CHOOSE rather to release the hurt. You may have to do this several times a day for many days before it finally takes effect. I have blogged about this several times – here, here, here, and here.
3. Simplify your life. This from an earlier blog:
Life can be simplified when we determine who and what is most important in our lives and order our lives accordingly. Business and organizations are encouraged to have mission statements to help define their purpose and steer their course, but I wonder how many of us have a personal mission statement? I have three, each stemming from the Bible: one that guides me spiritually (Philippians 3:10-14), one that guides me in my family roles (Ephesians 5:25 and 6:4), and one that guides me as a pastor (Colossians 1:28-29). In his essay "The Tyranny of the Urgent," Charles Hummel warns us that we often sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent. We are so busy doing what others insist is urgent that we have little time or energy left for what and who we know to be important. A personal mission statement provides us a tool to help us discern the difference between urgent and important.
Through the moving process, Andrea and I have committed to cleaning the clutter from our home at least once a year, ideally twice. And I have recommitted to keep my heart clear of the clutter that hinders the free flow of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Let me encourage you to practice regularly the discipline of cleaning the closets and storage areas of your life. Trust me, you will be glad you did.