If you ask anyone who knows me they will tell you that I belong somewhere tropical suspended between two palm trees taking a nap in a hammock. I love the warm weather. I love the simplicity of warmer months. The summer means no heavy coats, a break from makeup-it doesn’t stay on in the summer anyway so what’s the point? It means flip-flops, shorts, fresh fruits and veggies and, if I’m lucky enough, a couple days a week lounging at the city pool. Really, it just doesn’t get any better this side of heaven. Notice a theme? Simplicity, stripping off the things of daily life in pursuit of unencumbered living. It means, newness, freshness, a reprieve.
There are days when I would give anything to sell everything I have, put only what I need in a back pack and live the rest of my life as a vagabond doing ministry. Really, the apostle Paul was on to something. And if Jesus told me as he told the rich young man to sell all he had and give to the poor and come and follow him, I would have a garage sale so big your head would spin! Anything to get rid of all of this clutter.
Periodically I find myself driven to start pitching anything that crosses my path from one room of the house to another. This does not come without eliciting shrieks of horror from my family. I succumb to such a tornadic state of de-cluttering that I have been known to throw out checks, insurance policies, car titles, field trip permission slips, etc. If it’s not moving it’s fair game for relocation usually to the wastebasket.
Though I take what is commonly known as spring cleaning to a whole new level, the point is that spring and summer are usually the times we take stock of our houses, sell our stuff, tidy up, clean up, whatever. Lately, however, I’ve been made aware of the need for this kind of cleansing in my spiritual life. Why don’t Ipurge the sin in my life with the same zeal?
We all have junk in our lives so I won’t bore you with the list of mine. Suffice it to say, I go to bed every night vowing to do better the next day, hoping beyond hope that within the next 24 hours I will have somehow turned a corner and will no longer deal with the same old same old.
Apparently, the apostle Paul had the same problem.
“I have discovered this principle of life-that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin” (Romans 7:21-25 NLT).
Crazy, huh? After meeting Christ, Paul, the greatest missionary of all time spent the rest of his life preaching, teaching, begging sinners to come to Christ. He was beaten, bruised, jailed, exiled, all because he loved Jesus, and yet, he still fought against his sinful nature. I don’t know if I should feel better because I’m in great company or worse because if he couldn’t get it together what hope is there for me? The Bible doesn’t say what sins he wrestled with, but they must have been some doozies because he refers to himself as miserable, wretched and, in some translations, unhappy.
It’s not that God can’t take away those things that compete for our attention, but for me, at least, the things I battle are a constant reminder of my need for daily intervention from God. Despite my desire to get it together, I often have to pray and ask God to give me the will to act on that desire. How pitiful is that? But God, in His omniscience, knew that He would be the One providing the desire for obedience.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13 NIV).
The New Living Translation actually says,
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Phil. 2:13 italics mine).
How loved do you feel right now knowing that Christ died for you, invites you to eternity with Him, calls you to obedience and then actually gives you the desire to do what He’s called you to do?
This year, besides spring cleaning my house, which I will never not do, I think I will apply the same principle to my spiritual life as well. Of course, it sounds good today, but tomorrow I will have to pray for the will to accomplish it!