I stood in the middle of our third bedroom, in just enough space for my two feet, and surveyed the neglected collection of plastic tubs filled with fabric, beads and thread, boxes of memories, and piles of liter. The floor must be under there. Somewhere.
Dust had accumulated on everything with a flat surface. The closet was stuffed to capacity, and the second bedroom looked no better.
What a garbage heap. Will I never learn?
In a few weeks our grandson will be here and would need a place to dump his suitcase and lay his head at night.
So, I’ve spent the past two weeks, separating, organizing, and boxing trash, treasures, and memories. Agonizing over which stack to sentence each discarded object. I’ve troubled my own trouble by putting off this arduous task month, after month, after month.
The mission now encompasses the entire house. Every room is upside-down-and-backwards. And tomorrow—Garage Sale Day—looms like a gigantic storm for which I am totally unprepared.
I have miscellaneous stacks of items by the back door, waiting to be carted onto the driveway as soon as the sun rises in the morning. And I dread the process.
I laughed, imagining the size of the camel caravan when Abram and Sarah packed all their stuff (and that’s what my translation calls it—stuff) and set out on a journey to only the Lord knew where?
Then I thought about Nehemiah going back to Jerusalem. He set out by himself, at night, to survey the damage to the walls of the Holy City. As he passed the first two burned out gates he came to a place where the rubble was so deep his horse couldn’t make it through.
Sometimes our hearts and minds also become so mired with the junk of this world and stuff from our pasts, we can’t make it over, around, or through the brain clutter or the heart stutters. And we’re forced to either stop and clean our spiritual house or run the risk of sliding into a quagmire of addiction, anger and bitterness, or depression.
Take heart if you’re there, dear friend. God promises to give us courage as we allow Him shine the light of His love into those dark, scary places.
But we must open the closets.
And that first closet is prayer. Your prayer closet. Perhaps the only prayer you can utter at this point is “Help me, God.” I did that in 1988 when our marriage was in trouble, and those were the most powerful and quickly answered words I’ve ever uttered. God did exactly what I asked. He reconstructed our lives and our home.
Then you must pull out and dust off your Bible. Place it by your favorite chair and commit to a definite time, each day, to read and study God’s Word. The interruptions may seem unending, but spending time in His presence will be the best investment you can make—I know. I’ve been there.
And then to listen. Listen as the Spirit, through the Word, nudges your thought process. That still small voice inside reminding you of rebellion, disobedience, and unfaithfulness you’ve let slip in unnoticed.
Confess it. Whenever the Spirit convicts, right then and there. Tell God you’re sorry. Ask His forgiveness and know that because of the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for your sin, God puts your sin behind His back. He casts your sins into the depths of the sea. As far from Him as the East is from the West. Forever.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (I John 1: 9-10 NAS).
Then move on to dismantle the piles of past pain you’ve stashed for safe keeping in the dark alleys of your heart. Hurts you occasionally pull out, when reminded, to rehearse and prod these grief’s, injustices, or injuries, to resuscitating and keeping them alive.
Rip those secret things from the shadows. Hold each one in your open palms and with arms lifted, give them to God. Tell Him they’re too painful to keep and allow Him to take them away.
Will it be hard?
Yes, but God promises:
“…I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:5 NAS).
When we clutch our fingers around painful emotions, holding onto them like buried treasure, it just hurts more when God pries them from our hands.
Just like empty closets need to be filled with clean, fresh linens, we must trust God to wash, make-like-new, and fill those stinky strongholds in our hearts and minds with His light and His grace.
Then perhaps we will be more selective in what we choose to hang on to in the future. And then again, next time, maybe we won’t wait so long between cleanings—physical or spiritual. Because grief and pain don’t sell at garage sales. Everyone already has enough.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NAS).