“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7
“The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meant and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:3
For the past two weekends, my husband and I took the opportunity of some unscheduled time to work cleaning out our garage. We are still not done. I probably should let you all know that our garage is a disaster of the first order. There are two pathways that allow us to navigate through the mess. (Although after two weekends those pathways are at least wider) There are projects and parts galore and we have finally had enough. We concluded that we really needed to decide what we honestly needed to keep and what we can donate, recycle, or throw out. So we have been purging all the “stuff” that has been cluttering up our garage for a few (8) years now.
It felt good to see the top of the work bench. It felt good for all the various pieces and parts scattered throughout the garage to find a specific home. A home that was either in our garage or in the donation or trash bin. It felt good to clear away the debris and to recognize there was a lot of “stuff” we no longer needed to keep. It felt good to have a little more space to move around. It felt good when my husband’s son stopped by to borrow a tool and my husband knew exactly where it was. It felt good to purge. And while we are not done, we have made excellent progress.
As we have been purging, I couldn’t help but think about a few things. First, I was grateful to have the time to give to this project that we needed to do. I also became puzzled about why we are reluctant to purge the garbage that sits around in our homes and in our lives and gets in the way of our truly living life. And there is a big difference in existing and living. We hang on to a lot of old baggage we no longer need or even want. So, I have been grateful for this time of Covid-19 in that it has given me the time to purge and to think about why I have kept some of the stuff I have run across. A couple items have really made me wonder what I was even thinking when I purchased them to begin with.
Another thing I have realized is that clutter holds us back. It takes a lot of time to manage clutter which keeps us from doing what we would be much happier doing. We do the same thing with our emotions. We hold onto feelings and things that have happened in our past and instead of working through them we hold them close and don’t let them go. We keep revisiting them and wonder if we had done this or had said that…but our past is exactly that: our past. We can’t change it. We can only keep the good memories and release the bad as we work through the emotions we have been holding on for far too long. Those emotions only clutter up our lives keeping us from enjoying the life God has given us to live.
In addition, all the clutter in our lives, whether it is emotional or physical, keeps us from accepting the wonderful future God has for each of us. We are too busy taking care of our clutter or holding onto our past to see that the gift God is holding out for us to grab is so much better than the clutter we won’t release. We are a lot like the Israelites of old who didn’t trust that where God was leading them would truly be the Promised Land. That while they had to endure the desert for a period of time, they had a bright and amazing future waiting for them.
It is interesting that the Old Testament readings in the lectionary for this year revolve around Moses freeing the Israelites from Egypt and then leading them first to Mt. Sinai and then into the desert where they would end up wandering for forty years. God realized while they had been freed from slavery, they still were enslaved to their past in Egypt. There is even a time when they cry out against Moses as they are wandering in the desert and they basically say they would prefer what they had in Egypt, before they were set free to what lay ahead for them in the Promised Land. They want to go back to Egypt and slavery because that is what they know…the journey ahead was too hard. When life gets hard, we seem to want what we once had when life was easier. That doesn’t mean that life was better…just easier…at least it was from our personal perspective.
We have an opportunity to take a hard look at our lives and all they contained prior to Covid-19. And I wonder if we shouldn’t ask ourselves: Is that really what we still want? Is that really the best life I can live? Or is there something better? I would hazard a guess that there is something better than the clutter filled, over stuffed lives we had been living. I know for me personally, I am asking those questions. I am purging the excess “stuff” and I am looking at any emotional baggage I may be hanging on to and asking myself why. Because once we are through to the other side of this virus, I genuinely want to live my best life. I hope you do to.
So, my prayer for you all today is that I hope you will ask those or similar questions. I hope you will want to embrace all God is offering to you as you let go of all that you are holding on to and probably should have released years ago.