For about a 12 hour period from Sunday to Monday of this past week, Justin and I were seriously considering moving this summer. As crazy as it sounds, we would both love to live in a smaller space. Justin likes having less open space and I was so excited about being able to get rid of so many things that seemed to be overwhelming our house lately and consequently me. As it turns out however, we will not be moving. I must admit, at first, I was disappointed. I so badly wanted a fresh start and a reason to get rid of so much STUFF that has found its way into our home in such a disorganized way.
But then I got thinking; just because I have the space does not mean I have to fill it.
So I went home right away and began purging our home of unneeded clutter and reorganizing the important things in their own spaces. As I ruthlessly ordered and thought through every piece in our home it got me thinking about how weighty things can become in life and how vitally important it could be to rid ones space and life of too many possessions.
Perhaps there is a deeper purpose behind spring cleaning then one might think.
I am taking a class on Psalms this semester and yesterday we went through Psalm 73. As we talked through the structure of the psalm it paralleled my considerations on spring cleaning in such a challenging way I had to share some thoughts.
First, here are a few verses from Psalm 73, to read the whole psalm click HERE.
Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
The Psalm as a whole is a lament about the state of the wicked and how it seems that they prosper while the saints of Christ struggle. The psalmist can’t understand why he has kept God’s commands only to be unable to enjoy what the wicked enjoy, health, prosperity, influence and freedom. However, once the psalmist enters into God’s sanctuary his vision is renewed and he is able to comprehend God’s promises and presence as greater riches than anything found on this earth.
So what does this have to do with spring cleaning? Well, let’s see.
I have found that the longer I live around things, and I’m not talking about extravagant things, but ‘normal’ things like living room couches, a warm bed, a laptop, a smart phone, a record player, two cars, etc…, I can settle into the idea that I rightly deserve the things that I have, that I am entitled to live such a comfortable life and that I also deserve to have more things and comfort in the future. Even everyday things begin to shape my perspective on what I consider to be provision and ‘the good life’.
I begin to think that I can measure my contentment and my success by the amount of things I have compared to those around me, that my possessions can indicate whether or not I am living a BLESSED life.
Being able to have two cars means God is providing, being able to each have a laptop means God is providing, being able to have heat and hot water in our house means God is providing, being able to have so much furniture in our house means God is providing.
And many times God does provide through things, which makes keeping things in perspective all the more needed.
Because what happens if those things go away? What if we couldn’t have had heat this winter, what if one or both of our cars fail, what if both of our computers die, what if we had so much less then we do now?
Is God still providing?
Yes, He is.
And that is the perspective that I think ‘things’ conflict for our minds too many times.
Ridding myself and my home of unneeded things shakes up my perspective and reminds me that ‘things’ should not only never be my gauge as to how good God is to me, but also reminds me that anything we are able to have IS a blessing, not an automatic right.
Ridding my home of things also allows for space to grow. And I don’t mean space to fill back up with different things, but space that is kept empty and open. The removal of things that are constantly seeking my attention (TV, disorganization, clutter) allows for some attention to be freed up and put towards other, perhaps better, things and helps keep the idea that ‘things equal blessing’ at bay.
In the end, I think I am trying to remind myself to not let ‘things’ overwhelm my attention, perspective, or home.
Rejoice in God’s blessings of and apart from things. Keep life simple so my focus has the freedom to be shaped correctly and modestly not by the possessions in my life, that might be too distracting to look past, but by God.
We are ultimately sustained not by the things on this earth but by our vision and faith in God.
(p.s. just to be sure to clarify, I am in no way condemning having things. Everything that we are able to receive and treasure is a gift! I am merely noting a poor perspective on things that can easily overcome and hurt our vision from God and our relationship with Him.)