Thursday, November 13, 2008

My basement is officially clean and that should be a good thing, right?

For those of you who know me well you know that my house is a mess. You will not hold it against me and you will acknowledge it kindly. I appreciate that. I have been on a real journey of sorts with my stuff. I am a packrat. I know it and I pretty much know why. Dealing with why is not always easy, but I am trying to overcome. Last year my theme was purge, and this year my theme is peace.

Going through one's things by one'self is not very easy. I get very lost in the "I might need this one day" mentality and then I also hear my sister and my good friend telling me that I will never use it, and then I also see my MIL giving me a strange look after I tell her why I think I will use it one day. I am trying to find myself in my stuff. I dont want to hear or see someone else's opinion of my stuff anymore. I need to figure out if my stuff is important to me and why and then figure out what to do with my stuff.

The playroom/homeschooling room is the front bedroom of the house. It has been ankle deep in paraphanalia of all shapes and sizes for - hmmm - years? I can visualize two different friends helping me clean it. The problem with said room is that for years (yes, years is correct) I clean it but dont completely finish and than it goes right back to the way it was because it was never completely done. It has truly been the bane of my existence as a housewife. My constant goal is to get to the playroom. Well, I work two days a week, my husband is a pastor, and I homeschool and try to take care of four children. "Getting to the playroom" is not a simple task and if I ever do "get there" it is never completely "getted" so I have started to ignore it because I know it is futile.

(This is going to sound backwards, but bear with me.) The basement of our home is like the typical garage and attic combined. It is the catch all for everything. The problem was that it was catching all and not organizing all it was catching. I decided that in order to get to the playroom, I needed to get to the basement. I could not continue to keep throwing everything down there without a vision for where it should go. I did not know what I had down there nor why. So, for the past 2 1/2 months my vision was my basement. Can we just pause for a moment...


I know, the reasons are still not completely logical, but believe me, if you understood the situation you would agree, so just trust me on this one or you will be reading several more sentences that I felt I needed to write in order to make it logical which I dont think the sentences will help, so just trust me.


I am tempted to take pics and post, but without before pics it is just not as affective, so just picture a really really clean basement with things in boxes and put on shelves. I have been through everything in my basement. everything. I know where everything is and what it is and where it is. I threw things out, and I put a bunch of stuff in the yard sale pile. And yes, I saved some stuff. But do you know what? I have a REALLY BIG basement. As long as the stuff I am saving is being properly stored and is not taking up room for something more important, I am OK with it. I have 4 small kids. They might need it, I might need it, and I feel AWESOME that it is organized.

So, you may ask, there cant possibly be a problem? Yes, there is. Unfortunately. The problem is is that the basement is now the cleanest room in the house and I want to move down there so I can wallow in the lovely organization of it all. (there are nasty large hairy centipedes down there that I absolutely detest with all of my being so I dont think I'll be down there any time soon with a pillow and blanket in hand.)

Seriously though, the problem is that everything else looks much worse compared to the basement. Even the "clean" rooms look dirty. And that is frustrating. So, this conundrum got me thinking. And this is the point of the whole post...

Cleaning is work. It is not easy. When we clean we have to admit and acknowledge the dirt. We will be uncomfortable with this knowledge and then have to find ambition to deal with our discomfort. It takes a very long time and can be disheartening and exhausting. When we are done cleaning we can stand back and say, "wow this is clean" but we now have a standard by which everything else is compared. Guess what? Other things look dirty too, because we now know and observe what clean looks like. This is also disheartening. Somehow I have to find the gumption to do this all over again somewhere else.

Is it not the same in our walk with Christ? Christ cleans out our hearts - gets rid of the junk - and it is not easy. We have to admit there is sin. Acknowledging sin is uncomfortable. We aren't always sure what to do with the knowledge and once we figure it out we have to keep ourselves plugged into Christ to keep up the strength to deal with our sin. It can be disheartening at times and exhausting. When we can finally say we have the victory, it is so exciting and invigorating, but guess what? We now know what clean looks like, and therefore the other areas of our life that we thought were OK now dont look so OK anymore. And this is very disheartening. And I need to find the gumption...

David found the gumption. In Psalm 51:10 David is asking God to clean his heart: "Create in me a clean heart, O God;" And then we quote the rest of the verse because we know it, but did it ever make sense in this light? "And renew a right spirit within me" David needed his spirit renewed because cleaning is tough. It is not easy. The cleaning and the renewing are not necessarily separate actions. When we are done being put through the ringer and all cleaned up we can be very worn out. And then, we have this new standard of cleanliness that is so refreshing, but then we look around at our lives and want to beg God to clean some more, but we are just so exhausted. I think that many people are puzzled by these conflicting emotions. Satisfaction yet exhaustion mixed with unsatisfaction and longing.

We need our spirits renewed.

Renew means repair. We need God to repair our spirits. Put it back together.

All this cleanin' done wore me out - Lord, I am tired. I am clean, but I am tired. You broke me to clean me, Lord, and man, does it feel good to know that I am holy and and righteous in your eyes, but Lord, I am in pieces and I need you to put me back together. When you clean me, Lord, I am broken. But when you are done, dear Father, you will put the pieces back together for me.

We cannot maintain a holy life without asking God to renew our spirits. We will be forever exhausted and overwhelmed at the insurmountable obstacle of a holy life if we do not ever ask and experience God's repair of our spirit. Holiness and righteousness will only be associated with the pain of the breaking but when God renews our spirits we can experience a sweet and quiet walk in perfect communion with Christ.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Having Time

*As I post, my labels will be my chapter titles/book titles and my posts represent additions to these chapters or books. Sometimes they will be separated by lengths of time and sometimes they will be in a series*

Time. I am fascinated with the concept of time. It is said to be the third dimension.

God is eternal. He has no beginning and will not have an ending. If He never began and He will not end, He had to create time in order to create the world.

God created time. That is just so amazing to me. We are used to beginnings and endings and schedules and rythym and He created ALL of it!!!

So let's think about the concept of having time. Do we actually have time? Interestingly, I think that God gives us time and resources (mostly money which comes from using the resource of our energy and our abilities in a constructive way) at our disposal to both survive and thrive in this world. So I would say, yes, we have time.

I dont have time for _______________. (Think of something you should be doing not something you wish you were doing.) If God is truth, and His Word is truth, and in His Word He gives us commands to obey, and then gives us time at our disposal to obey these commands, are we truly able to say that we don't have the time to do what He wills? God promises us the strength to do what He commands (Philippians 4:13) but also trusts us with the proper use of our time to then carry out these commands.

Is my time then truly mine? Or am I to be sacrificing myself - including the time that I have - and lay it at God's feet to do what He wills? "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live..." The time I take to eat, to sleep, to be entertained (TV, radio, movies, amusement, sports, etc), to relax, to shop, to anything at all - these are not bad things - but am I sacrificing the use of my time for Jesus' name to serve myself? "...And the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20) In order to sacrifice my time, I need to choose to trust that God knows best how my time should be used.