I am sure a lot of us are taking advantage of all of our extra free time to do projects we have long thought about and planned to do, but that we always pushed further back in the line as more important things came along. However, now, the line is getting shorter and shorter, and we are getting around to tackling them.
Likely like many of you, my wife and I are doing a lot of reorganization in our home. It is amazing how cluttered drawers and closets can become over time. We don’t know what to do with something, so we put it in a drawer. We’ll sort through something later, so we put it in a closet until we have time. Or newer things have replaced older ones, but the older things still remain. And, of course, there is the memorabilia of long lives that is saved and stored away—old pictures and artifacts of our younger days, or things our parents and grandparents passed down to us that were meaningful to them.
So, we’ve been on a reorganizing binge at our house. My wife is going through one kitchen drawer per day, and I have been focused on a closet that for several years we have said needs to be sorted through and rearranged. This process has brought to mind some spiritual lessons that can be applied to our lives.
One of the most obvious is, over time, how cluttered our lives can become; so much so that we often lose sight of some important things. More than once, my wife and I have exclaimed, “I had wondered where that was,” because we had forgotten where we had put something. How exciting it has been to find something we had lost! In the same way, helpful habits and priorities that we once had in our lives tend to get “lost” in the accumulating busyness of life. A disciplined devotional life becomes less and less as the responsibilities of marriage, parenthood, and career slowly push it further to the back of our minds. A marriage established upon a strong emotional bond becomes more distant as our lives become more and more focused in other directions, such as toward our children’s activities, the demands of our jobs, or interesting hobbies.
Reorganizing our lives gives us the opportunity to rediscover the truly important things and restore them to a place of prominence where they will not be forgotten and can again be useful to us.
Another lesson is that there is much to get rid of from what we have accumulated. Not only does this stuff often obscure what is important and valuable, it also takes up space even if it is no longer of any use. In that closet, I found a long-abandoned computer, files of seminary notes, old books in boxes, and frames with pictures we had long ago decided to remove from our walls. Most of this is filling our trash can or recycling bin. It is no longer of use and we could use the space. There were also boxes of pictures and memories that I have been taking with me wherever I have gone for decades. The question I have been asking recently is, do I really need to continue hanging on to all of these? What purpose do they serve now?
A reorganization of our lives often involves getting rid of stuff from the past that is holding us back from focusing on the present and the future. Sorting through these things has reminded me that I am a much different person than I was, a more mature and wise man, and that I would rather keep building in that direction than holding onto the past. Likely, as it is for me, you made choices in your past that you now regret, or things happened to you that were bad and damaging. In light of God’s love and mercy, there is no reason to hold on tightly to these memories. It’s time to discard them and make more room for the blessings he wants to give you.
Finally, what we have noticed is that as the drawers and closet are reorganized, important things are returned to prominent places, and space is created when things no longer of use are discarded, that there is a sense of peace. Clutter and disorder tend to create anxiety. After enduring months (years!) of a cluttered kitchen or a disorganized closet, putting them back in order brings deep satisfaction. I think it is the same with a reordered life. When we have drifted over a long period of time from what is truly important, instead filling our lives with other stuff, our sense of peace slowly erodes and is replaced by anxiousness and worry. Reorganizing our lives can restore a long-missed peace.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus when I think about reorganizing our lives:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
This time of isolation provides the opportunity to find those heavenly treasures once again as we sort through the closets and drawers of our lives. There is no better time to see what we might discover.
© Jim Musser 2020 All Scripture references are from the New International Version 2011.