This last weekend I did something I had been putting off for sometime. I cleaned out the garden shed! For months I knew I had to do something about it but I kept putting it off, creating excuses to take away the guilt that I felt, that behind the shed door was a growing pile of mess that I had allowed to get out of control. Bikes that were too small for my children to ride, offcuts of carpet that might possibly come in useful one day – maybe, electric drills that no longer worked, rusty garden tools that hadn’t been used in years, empty paint pots and dried out brushes, etc… all piled up in such a way that made getting into the shed almost impossible as I just threw things on top of the growing mountain and slammed the door shut hoping somehow it would all magically disappear one day.
Well it didn’t go away by itself and this last weekend I couldn’t ‘stands it no more’ and so I spent hours emptying it all onto the lawn, cleaning out the shed, filling the car with junk to go to the tip, putting items that could be reused such as the outgrown bikes at the front of our house with a ‘free to collector’ sign on it (everything went the same day!) before putting what we actually needed back in the shed in some kind of order – a great sense of achievement.
Many of us live with clutter in our sheds, in the attic, in the car boot (you never know when that pair of muddy football boots, one smelly sock or the half drunk bottle of coke might come in useful!), clutter in our spare bedroom or hidden behind wardrobe doors. Some of you won’t understand this, your sheds, wardrobes and attics are always immaculate, with all items colour coded, alphabetised and ready for action.
It’s one thing to have clutter in your wardrobe, your shed, your car or your attic but it’s not ok to have clutter in your schedule, your relationships or your finances.
Clutter hides the reality of what is really there.
A cluttered diary “I am always so busy!” can often hide the fact that you are not efficient with your time and permanently running to make everything work.
A cluttered relationship “it’s so complicated!” can hide the reality that you are fearful of what would happen if you were truly vulnerable and honest with your friends or your spouse.
A cluttered bank statement “I don’t know where it all goes!” is a sign that your finances are out of control and one more unexpected school trip or broken boiler and it’s going to get messy pretty quick.
If this is you, then you need to de-clutter and find some margin or breathing room in your life. Margin is the gap between your current pace and your limits. If your finances, relationships and time are working on the very edge of your limits then you need more margin so you can breath again.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus never seemed to run anywhere? He seemed to have time for everyone, in the right place at the right time, always in pace with his Father God, not reacting to the pressure from those around him – think Mary & Martha when their brother Lazarus was dying or Jairus when his daughter needed a miracle and Jesus stopped to speak to an old lady who had been suffering for 12 years?
Jesus invites us in Matthew 11 to, “…walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”
The thing about clutter is that it has to be tidied up at some point. You either do it today or put it off, like I did with my shed, but it has to be done eventually. The messy relationship, the untidy finances or the overworked calendar need to be de-cluttered. The longer clutter is left, the bigger the mountain of mess that will need sorting.
I encourage you to rediscover Gods rhythm and pace this week, and maybe consider what needs to be decluttered in your life?