Saturday, July 6, 2013

Move-Out Cleaning

Being a college student, I'm very transitory. In about a month, I'll be moving into the fourth semi-permanent residence I've had in the past two years. Moving is exhausting! I've spent several evenings after work already trying to organize and get rid of junk so that I can fit myself and my stuff into an even smaller two-bedroom apartment, this time with two roommates instead of one.

I find myself inwardly complaining, But I just did this! I already got rid of all my junk, when I moved out of my dorm just a few months ago! It's true, I did. But apparently I didn't do as good of a job as I thought. I'm trying even harder now to pare down, and I've lowered my standards of what counts as "junk." That pair of shoes that I've had for several years and worn maybe twice? I let them stay last time, because I was just sure I'd regret getting rid of them. Sure, they're great shoes, but this time--to the consignment store they go.

Just a few months ago, I lugged 3 trash bags full of clothes (they-still-fit-but-they're-from-8th-grade-and-let's-face-it-I'm-never-wearing-that-again clothes) to St. Vincent de Paul. I felt pretty good about it! But now, going through again with higher standards for the clothing I want to keep, I find myself getting rid of even more. I've got bags full of craft materials I'll never use that I can pass along to kids and young mothers. Cute mementos, doo-dads, lotions, candles (who knew how much stuff a 20-year-old could accumulate?)--all in trash bags and give-away bags.

And yet I still somehow have so much stuff! Could it be that a year and a month from now, when my new apartment lease is up, I'll be doing this all over again and getting rid of even more? I don't doubt it.

Why am I telling you all this?

I'm writing this blog because through the process of cleaning, kind of like throwing out the leaven before the Days of Unleavened Bread, I'm seeing a spiritual principle that, I think, applies to all of us in our Christian walks.

The principle is this: We always have more work to do. We always have more sinful "junk" in our lives that we need to get rid of in order to draw closer to God. We may think we have done a pretty good job of cleaning ourselves up as we examine ourselves one year, but that doesn't mean that the next year we'll take a look at ourselves and think, wow! I'm completely de-junked! No, we all know that's not true at all.

Sometimes, it's because God is merciful and doesn't open our eyes to see all of the filthy and ill-fitting garments all at once, because He knows we can't handle it yet. Sometimes, it's because we've chosen not to notice the sins that have become deeply ingrained in our spiritual closets--things we're used to, things that make us feel comfortable.

But slowly, day by day, we should be getting rid of everything that clutters our lives, "every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us" (Hebrews 12:1), to make space for God.

I really look forward to one day settling down in a house that I own, and not having to worry about moving for awhile. But truth is, while we're alive, we're all pretty transient.

We're all cleaning to move out. Move out of this physical, ephemeral existence and into our eternal home in God's spiritual family. The ultimate lesson is that nothing physical that we can own or get rid of really matters. What matters is our hearts--that they are clean and pure before God, and that we don't let them get crowded with junk that will stand between us and Him.

"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. ... Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Romans 6:4-6,13)

Shared on MercyInk, Growing Home, and Time-Warp Wife.