Our house is filled with treasured knickknacks and family photos spanning the generations. I love being surrounded by what’s important to me, and I believe people get to know us better by visiting our homes. One of my favorite displays has been my picture wall. It lets everyone experience what our family looked like at different stages of their lives. It has received lots of admiration over the years, and it’s been a place of strategic prayer focus for my children since they were small. But the frames housing these photos have brought much teasing from our sons. Who knew shiny gold isn’t in anymore? (When you’re a mother of boys, you learn to take criticism with a grin!)
The time has come to bring down those photos. Not because of the teasing. Not because I want to. But because the “For Sale” sign just went up in our front yard. Selling our home after 32 years is a huge step for me. I’m actually getting through it without the need for human counseling! The peace of God is my Referee. The first step in this process is to de-personalize our home to make it more appealing to others. The goal is to allow prospective buyers to see themselves within these walls. Evidently, family photos are distracting. So we’re on a mission to de-clutter!
The time has come for cleaning out closets so they look larger. Clutter dwarfs a room. As I contemplated what accumulated paraphernalia needed to go, or stay, I read my daily dose of Oswald Chambers. I laughed out loud with his statement: Don’t plan for a rainy day by hoarding. How did this man know I needed to read this when he wrote it a hundred years ago? I’m convinced God’s time table is tailor-made to our circumstances, and that He also has a sense of humor. So as I agonized over what to keep and what to give away, I was convicted. My unwillingness to part with things just because I might want or need them some day was labeled “hoarding.” To save things I haven’t used in years when someone else might need it now…that isn’t God’s economy.
The time has come for clearing out bookshelves. It seems you’re not supposed to hold on to years of accumulated children stories, fictional paperbacks or motivational manuals. Bookshelves need to be decorative, not functional. So we lugged seven huge boxes of books to the half-price bookstore. Got $130 for our rejects. They even took our 1986 encyclopedias. Do you know how hard it is to throw away books with inscriptions on the inside cover? Or to release Bible studies you finished years ago but never looked at again? It kept ringing in my ears: I will not hoard. I will not hoard.
It was all about cleaning out clutter. Bare walls, empty tables and sparse bookcases reveal we are streamlined to the max! Our house now looks better than ever. Instead of feeling sad about what we’ve given away, we really like it! Getting rid of stuff makes you feel better. It’s like a weight has been lifted that puts the bounce back in your step. It actually feels good to strip away and de-clutter.
God used these circumstances to speak to my heart about stripping away distractions in my spiritual life. I’ve been hanging on to some old mindsets instead of allowing Jesus Christ to transform my thinking. Having grown up in a legalistic church, I learned to focus more on performance than grace. I fight that check-list mentality that grades me on whether or not I am a good person. Even though I love spending time in prayer and in Bible study, I fight the tendency to think God is happy with me when I succeed at that task and angry if I fail.
The time has come to strip away legalism.
Clinging to the traditions of men is another area where I need freedom. I’ve been convicted about caring more about what people think of me than whether I am grieving the Holy Spirit! The Bible says, The fear of man is a snare. It will catch us in a trap and keep us from growing. I struggle with people-pleasing. It’s self-preserving to make decisions based on other people’s opinions. Or to be afraid that your choice will bring criticism. Jesus came to set me free from that kind of bondage and wants me to walk in confidence that only godly obedience brings.
The time has come to strip away the fear of man.
When circumstances get hard and the way seems impossible, it’s easy to cling to fear and doubt. To allow myself to become consumed with worry. If I don’t take my thoughts captive, my mind is cluttered with the “what-ifs” of life. I must get rid of those paralyzing thoughts that prevent rest for the soul. The Bible says, Throw off that which hinders or entangles to run the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.
The time has come to strip away my fears.
Legalism, people-pleasing, and worry will distract me from fixing my eyes on Jesus to pursue Him above all other things. It’s an intentional choice I make to de-clutter. If I want to find the freedom Christ came to give, it’s up to me to cooperate in the streamlining process. I’m convinced that once I’ve removed the clutter, I’ll get a much better view of Jesus.