My house is in disarray. Well, that would really be putting it mildly since the entire contents of our generously-sized, walk-in pantry is now residing in our den, on the dining room table, and on the kitchen counters and floor. In the main area of the normally large kitchen, there is a large industrial sized set of rolling wire rack shelves temporarily set up to warehouse a selected number of now homeless items.
This all is a result of a major remodeling project that is underway. A couple of weeks ago our original wire shelves in the pantry were torn out and discarded and in their place, sturdy steel framed solid wood shelves are in the process of being built. But as frequently is the case with ‘do-it-yourself’ ventures, a ‘weekend’ project always takes more time and is way more involved than was first thought.
I know that once the shelves are complete and everything is back in order I will be thrilled with the result, but right now, the disorder is disruptive. There isn’t a single space in our sitting area that isn’t covered with containers of flour, sugar, pasta, rice, cereal, and any number of other cans, boxes, jars and bins. Just trying to locate a tea bag requires stepping over, around, and through a culinary obstacle course. The mess has exponentially complicated the process of making a simple, basic meal and even looking into the jumbled den fractures my thinking and leaves me frustrated and bothered.
As I was standing at the edge of the room sending out a ping for the box of oatmeal one morning this week, it occurred to me that my cluttered room is a lot like the lives many people live today. Between work demands, social obligations, family necessities and an ever increasing number of requirements, our lives have become so confused with commitments that there is often no breathing room at all. We trip and stumble from one thing to another, carrying with us a load of anxiety and frustration, all the time wondering why we can’t stay focused and on task.
This is often due to the fact that there is no space in our lives. Most of us pack one thing on top of the other until we can hardly function at all, but since our overstuffed lives are not as easy to see as the scattered contents of my pantry, we don’t really realize the effect it has on us.
Author Dr. Robert Swenson said it like this.
“If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. But we don’t have such an indicator light, and we don’t know when we have overextended until we feel the pain. As a result, many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life pre-scheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.”
How many people do you know who live like that… purposefully clearing away the clutter to build space for God to work?
The truth is that our God desires for His children to live focused lives that are centered on Him and invested in His kingdom, but we can’t make ourselves available to His plans if our schedules are so over packed that there’s nothing left at the end of each day. Therein lies the problem with over-commitment: Our busy lives push God out.
Women’s Bible teacher Lysa TerKerurst makes an excellent connection between a decluttered lifestyle and our ability to hear and respond to the Lord. Essentially, she says… Never are believers so fulfilled as when they choose to underwhelm their schedules so they can let God overwhelm their souls.
An exhausted mind and a fatigued heart cannot glorify God.
Even when our days are filled with good things, they will never be the ‘best thing,’ if we have no time for Him. And… busyness also tempts us to do the exact opposite of Proverbs 3:5-6… that is, to “lean on our own understanding” of what is important in each day and allow no time for us to listen to God and to let Him “direct our path.”
So as my home improvement project nears its end, and I clean up the mess and make some much needed space in my house, maybe you can join me in doing a little soul cleaning as well. Let’s take inventory of our lives, and begin to straighten up, throw out, and/or put our activities in better order so that we create some room for Jesus to work. When we make this kind of space, it allows us to breathe and become better positioned to hear God say “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21