By: Sharon Wick
I remember watching a reality TV show a few years ago where some houses were so cluttered that once the clutter was removed, the children in the family were surprised to find fireplaces, windows, room to play in, basements, and more. Profoundly illustrative—once a door was discovered! Imagine that—a door that was there the entire time!
Somewhere there is a drawer, a cupboard, a room, a garage, or even a storage unit full of stuff. Stuff that has become a part of the familiar landscape—camouflaged! What I’ve come to realize is that many look at old, outdated objects as if it were still the day they bought or received them. Track with me here—I am not talking about the one or two special, sentimental items or treasures we own which we want to pass on to our children or grandchildren. I am talking about the “stuff” we acquire over time. Sometimes we have clutter which doesn’t even belong to us. I have watched my mother accumulate so much stuff, led by the thought that somewhere in the future for one of us, or anyone else really, might need something from the stockpile. The reality of this is that even though she has been able to help some, she now must deal with getting rid of it all at once because my parents have sold their house and are downsizing. I watch her daily, struggling with the thoughts, more than the stuff.
The thing I have found in my home is that if clutter cannot be organized, clutter needs to go. Decluttering is not losing stuff—to me it means gaining and expanding: letting in new light and fresh scent, making space! Could it be that the door you are hoping or looking for is already there, hidden by clutter? Would you consider for a moment that maybe there are things in your life, home, and ministry that have become such a camouflaged part of your daily life that it could be the very thing which is standing in the way of that which is new?
Single people often talk to me about their desire for a mate and life companion, but many of them have very little, or no space at all, in their lives where another person would fit and thrive. All living things need space if they are going to grow. Think about those Japanese bonsai trees—to get them to be miniature replicas of the real trees, they restrict their growth. I often challenge the single guys to ask a married friend how much money needed to be added to their budget after they got married—they are shocked to find out the extra expense having a wife added. In the same way I challenge the single woman who long for their mate to ask their married friends how much space man-toys, tools, and things were added to their homes once they were married. For every job there is a tool, for every tool there is (supposed to be) a toolbox in a garage, but how many of you know: tools find their way to the kitchen drawers, to the laundry shelves, or even the beautiful entryway table! Like I said, for something to thrive and grow, it needs space!
Recently we have heard several pastors and ministers express frustration after the lockdown and restrictions caused by the pandemic. Ministry as they were used to is gone. But there are those few who, through the past year, have thrived and grown exponentially: planting churches and doing outreach to the fearful, the sick, the hurting, the lonely, and many more. After long hours of looking for the similarities or common factors in these thriving ministries, I found this: they make space for others! The leaders serve and share; they see the gifts that God has put in others, and they are not threatened by them. Instead, they disciple, pastor, and give people opportunities to grow. They don’t allow mistakes to define people or situations; rather, they allow the Word of God to shape their identity. Everyone who wants to participate is seen as a part of what God is doing and not as a number or a dollar.
Could it be that in the clutter of “how we used to do things,” we are missing the opportunity to be a part of the “new thing” that God is ushering in? Could it be that in the clutter of “I am building a ministry/church/business/family,” we are overlooking the very fact that Jesus is building His church? Sometimes this clutter and chaos comes from a good place, but we need to realize it was good and maybe even valuable for a different season, but now it needs to go. The world has changed, people have changed, but God has not, and He created living things to grow and to live abundantly. Are our traditions and programs choking the life out of those around us? Has the space we were meant to be living in become storage space? Being honest with ourselves here can bring great relief!
How intentional you are about making space will prove how much you really desire what you have been praying about.