The other day I cleaned my office. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but it is a major deal for me. Because clutter doesn’t bother me, my organization style involves piles, and once I put something in my file cabinet I never think about it again—I don’t clean my office very often.
I literally have said “I only clean my office when I have nothing else to do” to several people who have made comments about my messy office. However, this time I had to clean my office because I have a ton to get done.
Lately my life has felt incredibly cluttered. As I have been reading through my book doing the final edit I realized how much I needed to learn from my own writing. My own priority list of identities I am fulfilling is long and out of balance. My frustration level was at epidemic levels, and I was running on empty.
I needed to take a break from my life, even if just for an afternoon, and was not getting to it. Every time I walked into my office the clutter and mess actually did bother me, because it reminded me how much I had to get done and how I wasn’t cutting it. Honestly I felt like I was running two hours behind for everything and not fulfilling anything.
It took me a few hours to clean and organize my office, and it provided me a much needed break. Since I never clean my office, it was like a deep breath for me. Going through old files, shelving books, and purging my piles made me realize things were not as bad as they seemed. I realized much of what I was feeling was coming from expectations, worries, and assumptions I had made about or put on myself—just like the mess in my office.
I have heard and said it before that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. For me this past week the most spiritually significant thing I needed to do was clean my office.
Not only did I finish that day with a clean office, but also with a cleaner perspective. Will my office stay as clean as it is right now, not likely. But God was trying to get my attention about the unhealthy perspective I was carrying through my day to day life, and did it by something bothering me that normally doesn’t.
Is God trying to get your attention about something in your life? What is bothering you that normally doesn’t?
Thanks for hanging with me through these posts, you have made it all the way to number 1! I see that these posts are among the most personal ones, which probably explains why they are my favorites. I hope that my life experiences have some way helped your life and walk with Christ. Whether you have been reading my blog for this entire first year or have just stumbled upon my writing, thanks for reading!
My Top Five Posts #1: I Should Not Be Alive Part 2
As I said in my previous post, I had a lot of questions to answer during my hospital stay. It seemed like the doctors and nurses asked me a million times what had happened and how I was feeling. I quickly grew tired of answering both of these questions; what happened was in my chart and the fact I wanted more medication should adequately and completely answer the later question.
Not only did I have to answer a lot of questions, but I had a few of my own. The biggest questions in my mind and heart were not directed toward any medical professional, but mainly to myself (how could you have done something this stupid?) and to God (Why?).
This two word question, God why, was anything but simple. In those two words, those 6 letters, was a mountain of emotion, confusion, distrust, hope, anger, faith… Those words do not even begin to describe everything I was feeling as I prayed those two words over and over again. As I laid in that bed talking with the stream of people that kept coming through the door, no one had any answers, at least not answers to my real questions. Hope and faith truly were a huge part of what I felt, because I knew that God had the answers I sought, the bigger question was would I hear his voice, and if I did would I accept his answer?
I did hear His voice, but not in any way I expected. An audible voice would have been nice, even a hand writing on the wall would be acceptable, whatever was fine with me as long as what I got was an actual answer, not just something that raised more questions.
As I prayed, and slept, and took more meds, and saw more people, and felt the enormous outpouring of love from so many people one distinct phrase constantly ran through my mind, “I will make you lie down in green pastures.” I had memorized the 23rd Psalm several years ago and this phrase had always stood out to me, but this didn’t really make much sense. At first I just credited the medication and tried to focus on other things, but it would not go away. “I will make you lie down in green pastures.”
Once I realized this was God trying to answer my question through this familiar scripture all it did was raise more questions. “Oh, so you made me lie down, so that means you caused me to crash.”
“No, you made the decision to ride that fast through that empty lot”
“Ok, I understand being the victim of my own stupidity, but why didn’t you protect me?”
“I did. You rode out of your garage with out your helmet on, I made you go back and get it”
“Then why am I in this hospital bed if you protected me?”
“Because you won’t be obedient if you didn’t end up in this bed.”
I wish my conversation with God was that quick and that precise, it wasn’t. Over these several months God has filled in some of those answers for me. But one thing I did get loud and clear before I ever left that hospital room—I was not being fully obedient to God. That conviction stung, I felt like I had given God a lot. I was a pastor, I had given him my whole life (so I thought), and I had genuinely felt close to Him. But I knew right away one thing I was not doing all the way; writing my book.
The amount of time between when my book idea went from scribbles on scratch paper to actual words typed in a computer and me lying in that hospital bed was about 9 months. At that point I had written what now in the final manuscript are 2 and ½ chapters. As soon as I was home and could sit up for more than a few moments I started writing. I finished the next 1 and ½ chapters literally typing with one hand as my broken left arm was elevated on a pillow. I finished the rough draft of my book 3 months after being discharged from the hospital (it is 9 chapters). I fully believe that if I had not crashed that day my book would still not be completed.
But, not diligently writing was not the only thing God was trying to get me to realize. I had focused on the “God making me lie down” part, and it definitely got my attention. But that is not the whole phrase God told me over and over again. “I will make you lie down in green pastures.” It was not until my book was completed that I began to understand what on earth could be “green” about this experience, but that will have to wait for part 3…
Here we are, Saturday of holy week. Have you ever wondered why Saturday is a part of holy week? I really haven’t ever thought about it until today; but I think God must have had a reason for waiting 3 days.
Obviously we know the significance of Friday. Christ died on Friday, everything came to a head, it all hit the fan. Jesus said he was going away and it happened. Everyone that wanted Jesus out of their life and off the religious scene finally got their way. God turned is back to sin and Jesus finished it.
And we have Sunday, the resurrection. Time to celebrate that God solved the equation, God is still a righteous judge, the wages of sin is still death, and yet I can be forgiven by grace. The cross is empty, Jesus is alive, and suddenly everything makes sense. Sunday is the year of jubilee, life is good, and I know the truth and it has set me free.
But what about Saturday? Think about the disciples on Saturday. Just a few days ago they were still kicking it with Jesus and all was fine. Now Jesus is dead and they are left to pick up the pieces. Imagine mentally going over everything Jesus said and did, wondering what exactly everything meant, and wondering what might happen next. Everything changed in the matter of a few hours and here they are, alone. Imagine Peter on Saturday, that had to have been the longest 3 days of his life. I can imagine the one word that would define Saturday is silent. Silent Saturday.
As I think about this, I realize there have been several times in my life and in my faith that it has been Saturday. I have hit rock bottom and I know what I hope for, but all I find is silence.
Perhaps you look around and it is Saturday in your life. Maybe it is Saturday in your ministry. We all have Saturdays. But you know what? Sunday will come. God will show up. It might be only a day away, or perhaps it might be longer, but no matter what know that Sunday is coming!