Glutted with Clutter

We’re now three days into Lent. Have you any plans to fast this year?

Whatever your answer, now is a good time to think about what we can clear from our lives. Clutter of every sort–material, schedule, mental–is every much a Christian concern as overeating. They all have certain things in common:

We learn to see large, regular “servings” as normal, and we find them noticeably uncomfortable to do without.

They tempt us to see consequences as irrelevant. You promised to go on a diet, but that cake looks so good and just once won’t hurt. Your credit card is charged to the limit, and you have clothes for every day of the month, but that blouse in the window is so beautiful, and it is on sale. And if the lure of pleasure doesn’t get you, the desire to avoid pain does: you groan at the thought of taking on one more project, but disappointing your boss seems a greater evil.

Too much hurts–sometimes immediately. Most of us have experienced the pain of an overloaded stomach. An out-of-control schedule, a mind cluttered with worry, or the sight of an overflowing closet (or the bill run up filling that closet) can leave an equally uncomfortable feeling in the gut.

They often come with a sense of false obligation. The world is full of people who just can’t say no to an offer of second helpings; or are constantly moaning about the unfairness of all they “have” to do and how the world owes them a break; or are finding that favorite hobbies leave a bitter taste in the mouth once you start obsessing about the collectibles you don’t have yet or the TV episodes you missed.

But think a minute. Did you actually sign a contract with the traffic lights and the computer server for x amount of easy going in exchange for x amount of activity? Are you really responsible for as much as you think, or could it be that the only one expecting you to do the impossible–is you yourself? Is busyness always preferable to rest?

God certainly never said so. In many cases, He says the opposite. Resting one day a week is a divine commandment (Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus urged us to come to Him for rest and refreshment (Matthew 11:28-30). Sometimes, the one who is bustling about doing good works in God’s name rates less commendation than the one who sits down long enough to listen to Him (Luke 10:38-42).

Whatever plans you have for Lent, remember that the idea is to fill the leftover space with prayer and meditation, not simply alternate activity. I imagine that when Jesus, our Example, spent forty days in the wilderness, little of that time went to thoughts about what He was missing back in Galilee or about finding ways to kill the time, nor even entirely to planning what He would do when His “time was up.” He definitely kept His attention on meditation, worship, and communing with God.

Why not add a little extra daily quiet time–real just-sit-with-God quiet time–to your Lent 2015? Don’t say you don’t have time. The “you can’t outgive God” principle applies here no less than with material possessions.

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1 Comment

  1. Jo Swank

     /  February 23, 2015

    Another great, insightful post! Thank you!


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