I hate clutter. With a passion. Yet I find myself surrounded by endless clutter, every day. My desk at home, both my desks at work, my kitchen, my car, my yard, my bedroom, and most of all, my living room, where two grownups, three kids, two cats, one dog, and one wood-chomping fireplace all dump their stuff, shed their fur, spew their ash and bits of wood into one tiny space. All day long.
It feels like every day is a battle, with daily tallies at the end to see who will win the war. Today it was clutter, 101; Julie, 5. Which means that tomorrow I will wake up behind and start my day in clutter. Again.
Forgive the pessimism, but I’m guessing you can relate. I hate clutter because it makes me feel jittery, edgy, impatient. It makes me restless. I feel I cannot enjoy the space around me or even think clearly until the clutter is gone. I’m learning that in a small house with a family of five and not too much extra time on my hands, the clutter is never gone, and it’s OK to live in that a little bit.
I think we all crave clean space. (Even my kids don’t think they need it till they actually clean their rooms, then they always wonder why they didn’t do that sooner.)
Really, everything we do is a battle against the disorder that is trying to claim our lives. We want to rest, but we can’t. There’s too much clutter. That’s why this quote of Brennan Manning’s grabbed my heart for the new year:
“Holiness is not a personal achievement. It’s an emptiness you discover in yourself. Instead of resenting it, you accept it and it becomes the free space where the Lord can create anew. To cry out, ‘You alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,’ that is what it means to be pure of heart. And it doesn’t come by your Herculean efforts and threadbare resolutions . . . simply hoard nothing of yourself; sweep the house clean” (from “Shipwrecked at the Stable” in Lion and Lamb).
Holiness is not something I achieve. It comes when God enters my emptiness. When I clean house, de-clutter, and create space, He comes.
The more stuff I have, the more things I hoard, the more I clutter up my space. The same is true of my soul.
We crave space even as we are sometimes afraid of it. We fear emptiness. We don’t know what to do with it.
The first use of the word “holy” in the Bible comes from Genesis 2:3: “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
The day was called holy because of the rest. The space was sanctified, set apart.
Throughout His story, whenever people encounter God’s holiness, they stop. Or rather, they are stilled. And the presence of very God comes into their emptiness and changes them forever.
And have you ever noticed how often He moves His people into places of space and stillness? In those places He always meets them, always fills.
I find myself wondering how often He has tried to still me, to stop me, to de-clutter the space I am constantly filling. And here I am working so hard to be holy.
Holiness comes to the hollow. The hallowed. The spaces set apart for Him. And it makes sense that the more space I create, the more He will fill.
So this is my word for 2018. Space. Space for the holy. Space to hear Him, see Him, know Him. Space to rest. I’m learning (so slowly) that this is how He works, backwards: I must stop to move forward, listen to know what to say, empty myself to be filled.
Let’s stop with the Herculean efforts and threadbare resolutions. Let’s let go of all we are hoarding and sweep our house clean. Let’s make space for Him to make us holy.