FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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The Closet God Gave Me

Sometimes I amaze myself by the full blown, all out pity parties that I have – especially when they are about the silliest of things.

Like closets.

Like why God has given me this closet?  Yes, I actually had that thought.  (I am ashamed and have repented, so you can go ahead and laugh at me.  It’s okay.)  But I will confess the full thought here because I cannot be the only one.

It just hit me one day.  I was trying to put away groceries, but the refrigerator was too full already.  Likewise the pantry, so I left some non-perishables on the kitchen counter, determined to deal with them later and  sat down to read my mail and pay bills.  But there were stacks of papers already on my desk and even some peeking from the pigeon holes, so I just placed the new mail on top of the old stacks.  On to the laundry – to fold and put away the freshly cleaned clothing.  But the linen closet was already stuffed and the racks in the closet were full.  And that is when the frustration set in and the pity party began.

“Lord, what is up with this little closet?!  I miss the closets I used to have in my old house!  Don’t you remember, Lord?  Shelves organizers, drawers, space!  Why did you bring me to this place?  Why do I have to have these little closets?!”  This might be a good time to tell you that I’ve moved into a home built in the early 1900s.  The home is lovely, but people obviously didn’t build closets much less BIG closets back in those days.

And then it hit me.  This is the closet that the Lord has given me.  And that being the case, the problem is not the closet.  The problem is the stuff.  Hmm.  Let’s go even deeper.  Might the problem be a lack of self-discipline and self-control?

Another Hmm.

Stuffed closets, packed refrigerator, overflowing desk drawers, stacks of books and piles of papers.  Even my phone’s battery drains because of all the apps I’ve downloaded, the texts I’ve sent and the pictures I’ve taken.  Let’s not talk about email inboxes!

It is not the closet (Forgive me, Lord!); it is me.  It is my lack of self-control and self-discipline.

Okay, so my closet is overstuffed and my desk is junky.  “Is that a sin?” you ask.  Well, let’s turn to the Scriptures.

We are instructed by Titus 1:7-8 (ESV) to “be above reproach…to not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined

Galatians 5:22-23 teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness,(and) self-control.

It is 1 Peter 5:8-9 (EXB) that most makes clear the problem for me.  “Control [Discipline] yourselves and be ·careful [alert]! The devil, your enemy, ·goes around [prowls] like a roaring lion looking for someone to ·eat [devour]. ·Refuse to give in to [Resist] him…”

Overstuffed closets, junky desks and even full mailboxes may not be sins, but the questions that they should raise in us include “Are these things – having them and pursuing more – interfering with my relationship with God?” “Is all my time spent dealing with my stuff?”   “Does the clutter of the stuff rob me of peace?”

Proverbs 25:28 says, “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” (MSG)  That kinda summarizes how I felt the day I had the “too little closet pity party,” like the doors and windows had been knocked out and a wind was blowing through the house creating havoc in every room.  And therein lay my problem – no peace and no contentment because of too much stuff.

You may be fine with your closets and your stuff, but this week examine your peace and contentment.  Determine to take whatever action necessary to deal with those things that rob you of the peace and contentment Paul describes to us in Philippians 4.  As for me, I’ve learned to be content with the closet that God gave me!


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Cleaning Closets

Deciding is half the battle “they” say.  You know, the infamous, elusive, unidentified “they.”  I’m hoping “they” are right with this one because I have decided to clean my main closet.  It’s huge, and it is a mess – partly because for a few days I haven’t followed my own rule of putting things back where they came from and partly because I really need to get rid of some stuff!  Maybe I should start with the shoes I bought for student teaching…  Hmm, that was more than 35 years ago.  Perhaps I will get rid of the dress I wore when I first met my in-laws.  That might be a good choice since (1) I am divorced, (2) I weighed a LOT less then and (3) it’s almost 20 years old!  This could be a good time to toss the ugly Christmas sweaters – the ones that were so popular in the 70s and 80s.

Are you getting a picture?  We often hold onto things much longer than we should – and not just dresses and shoes.  How about attitudes, thoughts, grudges, wounds?

Ephesians 4:22-23 (AMP) says, “Strip yourselves of your former nature.… And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].”  In other words, let the past go.  Clean the junk out of the closets of your mind and heart.  Let go those thoughts of what you think you lost, how things might have been, what you’ve given up, ways that you were mistreated, times you felt overlooked or undervalued.

It helps to have someone help me clean the closet.  I tell stories about my stuff, we laugh, and we bag it or box it and take it out. Then we forget it!  Kinda like Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) which tells us to “Forget the former things” and to not “dwell on the past” because the Lord is doing a new thing.   You must clean out the old to make room for the new.

Ponder the following Scriptures and the contents of your heart’s closet this week:

Monday:   Proverbs 4:25-27 (ESV)

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Question for reflection: What is calling you to look back and keeps you from looking forward?

Tuesday: Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Question for Reflection:  What thoughts do you need to swap – untrue for true, dishonorable for honorable, unjust for just, unclean for pure, etc.?

Wednesday: Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…

Question for Reflection: What are you holding on to (thoughts, habits, relationships, etc.) that not only “weighs you down,” but impacts your testimony and witness before those you encounter?

Thursday: Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on 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 and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…”

Question for Reflection: How many treasures can you find in your closet that might better serve someone else? Can you take them to a neighbor? To Goodwill? To a clothes closet? Other?

Friday: Isaiah 12:2 (ESV)

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

Question for Reflection:  Of what (or whom) are you afraid? What (or whom) are you holding on to rather than trusting God?

PRAY: Heavenly Father, I love You. I know that You love me. I trust You, and I trust the plan that You have for me and my life. Search my heart and my mind. Show me those things, those people, those feelings, those memories and those attitudes that I need to let go of. Sweep clean the corners of my mind and the recesses of my heart and fill each with what will honor and glorify You. I claim the peace and joy of an uncluttered mind and a clean heart. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

SHARE: Post comments to share your reflections and reactions from this week’s post. (One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One woman’s sharing is another woman’s blessing!)