We all have the best of intentions of getting up in the morning and getting things done, and then the alarm rings and we groan and roll over. Monday morning…notice I said Monday… I was not ready to get up yet. It was the day after Easter, and the weekend had been busy. I just wanted a few more minutes. As I started to drift off to sleep, the persistent poking of a small paw woke me up. I lifted up the covers, thinking she wanted to join me, but she jumped under and back out again. We repeated this routine a couple of times until I felt something tickle my arm. I sat up and turned on the lamp to find a palmetto bug in my bed. Sassy was chasing it around, which is why she wanted me to move the covers. Let’s just say that motivated me to get out of bed and get said bug out of my bed. Going back to sleep was no longer an option.
As it turned out, I got quite a few things done that morning before work, which made me feel productive and got some things off of my to do list. However, I still had hard time not being aggravated for the ruckus that got me up and moving. I was thankful for the end result even if I would have rather skipped the unsettling events that led up to it. I think God has a way of using unsettling events to move us in the direction that we should go when we would rather stay under the covers and nap.
We all like our comfort zones, where we feel all warm and safe, but God wants to go on an adventure with us, spiritually speaking. He wants to us to cast out into the deep and go fishing where we never have before because He wants to do something new in our lives. In John 21, Jesus comes to some of his disciples who were fishing all night and had caught nothing. He told them to cast out into the deep and cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They were a little skeptical, but obeyed and caught almost more than they could haul. The reward for obedience was greater than they had imagined.
Mind you, the rewards are not always tangible, but they are always more than we could have imagined. God wants to do something great in our lives, but sometimes he has to unsettle us and shake us free from our routines and send us in a new direction in order to do something new. Sometimes it is something substantial like the loss of a job, and sometimes it is just a palmetto bug in our bed that motivates us to change our morning routine to make room for something new. You may not like the motivation, but use it to cast out into the deep with Christ and you will not be disappointed by the end result.
My devotional this morning was from Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. At the end of each devotional, she gives ideas on how to practice soul care and includes scientific studies that back up her suggestions. Today the suggestion was on decluttering and how clutter causes increases in cortisol, a stress hormone, while decreases in clutter reduced the levels of cortisol. She suggesting purging what does not spark joy.
Marie Kondo offers the same advice in her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her show tries to help people get rid of clutter and organize their home. Some critics claim that asking the question does it spark joy is only enabling hoarders to hold on to their piles of stuff. However, her show has helped people significantly reduce clutter and create a more restful and organized living space. Her concept is good even if people twist it to fit their own agendas.
In Exodus 16, God provided the Israelites with manna every day. There was always just enough, never too much or too little. No matter how much they gathered, there was always just enough for the day ahead. This is still true today. God promises to give us what we need for this day, no more, no less. Most people hoard out of fear or greed, neither reason is healthy. Yes, we should be responsible and work, but worrying and piling up possessions out of fear only leaves us tired and unsatisfied. We need to trust the daily manna from God, be obedient today, and trust God to work out the details. Don’t be enslaved by things.
So, take a moment today and do some de-cluttering. I think we need it at a physical, mental and spiritual level. When you take a moment to de-clutter one small corner of your home, you free yourself on all levels because you have one less thing to think about, you have more space to breathe, and it helps you to relax so that you can focus your mind and spirit because what good is having “stuff” if you never use it? If you know someone who needs something you aren’t using, give it to them. It will free you, give you a sense of satisfaction that you were able to help someone, and it will bless the person you give it to.
Now pardon me, if you will, I have to go follow my own advice…there is a small closet crammed with clothes that I can’t wear that need to bless someone else and free up some breathing space for me. #thebonniegray #whispersofrest
If you have ever spent any time around a toddler, you will hear these words: “I do it myself.” Usually, it is something that the child cannot do themselves despite all of the determination in the world. Sometimes it is even a little comical watching them. I have to wonder if God sometimes laughs to himself when watching us say “I do it myself.”
We all prefer to feel self-sufficient. We don’t want to need anyone. We often love giving to people because it makes us feel good, makes us feel needed. However, we just as often don’t like being on the receiving end because it makes us feel vulnerable. We prefer thinking that we are bullet-proof. It feels safer.
The truth is that we need help. We need God. He isn’t some capricious entity who likes to play with us like a cat toying with a mouse before it moves in for the kill. He is a loving father who only wants to help us, a help we need despite our determination to do it alone.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Grace is an unearned gift. We can’t do anything to deserve it or earn it. We can only receive it. Once we have grace, then we can share it with others, but we have to remember that it is God’s grace and not our own. We can’t do it alone.
Maybe it is time to hand God the thing we are trying to do alone, and let Him help. Like a loving father, He is waiting for us to ask and relinquish our grip so that He can do a work beyond what we ever imagined accomplishing alone.