Monday, May 6, 2019

What If We Clean Out?

I think boxes full of saved stuff, women's purses and our mental boxes are very similar.  In my house I have too many boxes/drawers of things I have saved over the years.  Some is good and some is stuff I don't even remember.  Match books ... pictures ... old flashlights ... batteries ... even an old gift card that has expired.  These are some things in my box.  Yours may be different, but we all have those boxes.

I have noticed that sometimes women's purses end up like these boxes.  They have things that are needed immediately, things that are useful but 'on hold' and things that were thrown in at the spur of the moment and are unnecessary.  Hard to find the good stuff in there, isn't it?

My mental box is the same.  I throw stuff in there all the time.  Thoughts, memories, grudges, observations, events, people and all sorts of other things.  Some of these things are used often.  Some just sit there and are never used at all.  It becomes hard to find the good stuff among the bad.

I have decided I need to do some cleaning.  Why should my box be filled with stuff I never use?  Why should I carry around things that are useless (and sometimes harmful) to me and others?  Why should I expend useless energy, time and effort on things that just don't matter?  Good questions!  How do we clean out that box and get off to a new start?

First, dump all the stuff out.  Hebrews 12:27  says "all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain."  If God will take this action with all of creation, maybe I can wrap my mind around doing this with the mess I carry around.  Dump out all of that stuff and look at it.  If it is not beneficial ... if it hurts me or others ... if it takes me backwards ... then leave it behind and throw it into the trash.  This is the act of reflection, discernment and honesty with self.  John Wesley said ... "Do no harm ... do all the good that you can ... stay in love with God" (3 Methodist rules).  These are good criteria for the discernment process.  If it harms (me or others), if it isn't 'good' and if it doesn't love God and others ... don't put it back into the box. 

Second, walk away ... leave it behind!  Hebrews 12:1 says "let us strip off the weight that slows us down, especially sin that so easily trips us up."  We are on a journey/adventure called life.  These 'weights' rob us of of joy, excitement, challenge.  They make us lethargic, mentally, physically and spiritually.  How can we become Paul's new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) if we hold fast to these impediments to our journey and Christian walk!?

Finally, we forgive.  We don't wait for the other person or situation to deserve forgiveness.  We don't wait till we feel like forgiving.  I believe we (like the Nike logo) just do it!  Matthew 18:21-22 says we forgive "70 times 7" (a Hebrew way to say 'a lot').  There are so many literal and figurative ways to read this passage, but why complicate it?  Do it till it takes.  Don't stop till is is finished!

Here's where the box comes in.  Have you ever observed how, over time, the things we use from that box tend to stay on top and the older, unused things sift down to the bottom?  Why not apply this to the things we need to leave behind ... throw away ... get out of our lives?  Maybe, ever so often (maybe very often) we should just throw out everything in the bottom of the box.  Maybe we should resolve (with God's help) to never use grudges.  Maybe the bad thoughts about people who have wronged us should be allowed to go unused, sifting down to the bottom of the box.  Maybe hurts we wear as excuses aren't helping us.  Maybe we should inventory, walk away and forgive ... and never pick up that stuff again.  Maybe we are meant for better things!

Time to clean out ... move on ... grow up and live!  Randy

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