In this decluttering series, we’re going to draw parallels between a cluttered closet and a cluttered prayer life. And we’re going to find some breathing room as we sort this out.
But I have a favor to ask you as we begin this journey. Please don’t get tripped up literally when I make these parallels. I’m sure you are well aware that you can have a tidy home and yet still have a disheveled heart. You can also have a pack-rat home and a heart that is fully at rest and at peace. So please don’t think one external thing signifies the same spiritual or emotional reality, ok? I’m not into pretty on the outside and ugly-hearted inside. I’m all about the heart’s interior.
Have you ever heard Jesus talk about how the religious-rule-followers were like white-washed tombs? Beautiful on the outside but spiritually dead and unclean inside? (Read Jesus’ own words about it here in Matthew.) Because remember, Jesus isn’t concerned about the outside appearance of your home or even the outward appearance of your good behavior. He’s concerned about the heart attitudes within it. Jesus is all about relationship. Well now. We’ve already gotten rid of a little cultural clutter right there. Now that that’s settled, let’s begin.
Decluttering is suddenly highly in vogue right now. And it’s great. But for some, the buzz will fade away. At first, they’ll try to just adopt some new behaviors. But eventually, they’ll go back to their previous shopping, filling, cluttering habits. (I’ve done that!) For others, the change will last. They’ll learn how to think about it all differently. And this new mindset will create a new set of behaviors that bubble up out of that new framework. (And I’ve experienced this too!) One addresses the issue from the outside, it never sinks in, and then nothing every really changes.. The other addresses the issue from the inside out and it sticks.
For some, coming clean before the Lord will be a continual unfolding. It’ll stem out of a foundational change of beliefs… It’s the process of changing your identity from slave to beloved child, from adulterous to faithful, from rejected to delighted in. For others, this will be just a short stint. They’ll start out with good intentions, and they’ll just try to modify behavior. But because their foundational beliefs never changed, the outward signs don’t stick. And we go back to the mess we were before.
That’s the difference between repentance and remorse. Remorse is basically getting swept up in the emotions of feeling sorry and then, like a fad, it fades away. Repentance is a recognition that the way you handled yourself before is harming you, the Lord, and those around you, so it’s a complete change in lifestyle. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. Changing a lifestyle never happens overnight. Still, in the end… Repentance remains. Remorse fades away.
At the end of the day, we want our faith to remain. We do NOT want to be among those who “fell asleep” or whose “hearts were hardened” in the last days. So in the weeks ahead, I’m going to take you on a journey through your closet… and your prayer closet.
I’ll offer some teaching and then let it sink in. The following week, we’re going to have a simple decluttering exercise that correlates. Through the exercise, we’ll discover a principle for our prayer lives. We’re going to take it nice and easy so it can all really sink it. I know. We Americans hate that. But truthly, we’re in no rush. And our clutter has waited long enough, so we know it’s patient. Ha! I’m after long-lasting results with my clutter. Not quick fixes. Changing our thinking takes time. And it’s worth it in the end. So hang in! There’s lots of gold ahead for those who stick with me!
We’re going to walk through a natural rhythm I have found in my own prayer life:
It begins with the Prayer of Surrender.
Then moves to Holy Constraint.
And then leads to Divine Multiplication.
This rhythm is likewise found in nature, in the spring, the heat, the pruning, and the harvest. It applies to our prayer lives, our closets, our calendars, and our relationships. I’m looking forward to exploring this with you!
But before we dive in more, I think it’s important that we define clutter.
Clutter is any pretty thing that crowds out what is presently precious or purposeful.
Really good and pretty things easily slip in, crowd out, and distract from what we need and want to focus on.
In fact, some people prefer to keep the clutter in their home because they feel it distracts from the dirt. It’s an illusion though. Clutter actually highlights the dust and gives it more places to land on. I wonder if the same is true in our hearts. Do we prefer the screen time, and extra-curriculars, music, and podcasts in a delusion that it might hide the dust on our spiritual lives? When in actuality, we give the dust more places to fall upon?
Let’s make room for what matters most.
I’m hoping that after this series, you’ll begin to see how the same principles apply with your schedule planning, your meal planning, your vacuuming, your gardening, and especially in how you garden and tend to your own heart.
But we’ll start small. Next week… a tale of bathroom towels and surrender.
Check out the Declutter Definition post here.
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You and your pals have until next Tuesday, April 23, 2019! Our winner will receive a copy of one of my favorite leisure reads: “Make Room for What You Love,” by Melissa Michaels.
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