Pockets

 

Let us turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the wholesome fear of God, giving ourselves to him alone. —2 Corinthians 7:1 TLB

I love pockets! Into them I cram the bits and pieces of my daily life—stuffing from the dog’s chair, paper clips, pens, screws, fingernail clippers, gum wrappers, pop bottle caps, rubber bands, used and unused tissues, receipts, keys, loose change, buttons, even the cat’s shed hair.

One pocket is not enough. I like at least two. Into the left pocket I put the things I will throw away. Into the right pocket go the items I’ll either use soon or need to put where they belong. At the end of the day I empty my pockets. It wouldn’t do to carry today’s debris around with me tomorrow, and neglecting to remove a tissue buried deep in the pocket of a pair of jeans that later get tossed into the washing machine can get messy. The items in my right pocket are put where they belong—in a cupboard, closet, or drawer. Tomorrow I will start my day with pockets clean and ready.

I have “spiritual” pockets, too. In them I stuff the bits and pieces of my spiritual life. Deep in my left pocket I push that exaggerated truth, twinge of envy, thoughtless remark, moment of discontent, act of selfishness, word of gossip, and bitter feelings. Into my right pocket go the things I often need at my fingertips: honesty, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, kindness, gentleness, and humility.

Like my physical pockets, my spiritual ones also need to be emptied and scrutinized every day. Disposing each day of the accumulation in my left pocket through confession makes tomorrow’s lighter to carry and quicker to discard. Too often, however, I don’t dig deeply enough, and bits and pieces of an overlooked “tissue” cling to the fabric of my life. That’s why it’s important to ask God to show me what I’ve missed. After I’ve cleaned out my left pocket, I sort through the contents of my right pocket and apply them where they belong—to a relationship, attitude, habit, or perspective.

And tomorrow I start over, with pockets clean and ready.

Father God, keep Your hands in my pockets. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 4:23–32.

From Minute Meditations: Meeting God in Everyday Experiences, © 2000 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Upheaval!

Stuff from two bedrooms, my study, and the hall jam-packs the dining room in preparation for new carpeting.

Let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. –2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT

 My entire house is in a state of upheaval.

Blame it on the much-needed new carpeting. While I knew everything – and I mean everything – had to be removed from the three rooms and hall, I was clueless how much stuff we’d accumulated over the years.

My study was the worst. A year ago I started cleaning and organizing it. I got as far as packing things in boxes and creating a pile of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with, I’ll-get-to-it-later stuff. The disorganized mess got so bad I closed the door when company came and ignored it the rest of the time. Which was getting harder to do since the only clear floor space was a narrow walkway from the door to my computer desk, a distance of three steps.

When the time came to prepare for the new carpeting, I simply dumped the stuff into boxes and bins and transferred the chaos to the dining room.

I know it’ll take time to go through it all, so I’m practicing patience. After all, it was impatience that bred the mess. Little by little, box by box, bin by bin, day by day, I’m sorting through everything – and asking myself why I held on to all that stuff. Most of the items I’d forgotten I had.

We all have areas like that, don’t we? A closet, a room, an attic or basement (or both), a garage, a shed . . . we squirrel things away thinking we may need them some day. Or we hold on for sentimental reasons. But either we forget we have it or by the time we get around to pulling it out of storage, it’s outdated, rusted, or otherwise useless. Or we’ve forgotten why we saved it.

Our spiritual houses need regular cleaning, too. How often we hang onto things better let go: a twinge of envy, a smattering of jealousy, a thoughtless remark, a moment of discontent, an act of selfishness, a surge of anger, a word of gossip, a root of bitterness, an unforgiving attitude, an exaggerated truth, a time of disappointment, discouragement, doubt. In and of themselves, they hardly take up room. But added together, compounded day after day, year after year, they usurp the room we have in our hearts and souls, leaving little space for the good stuff.

Like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, gentleness, humility.

How to tackle such a colossal task?

First, decide to do it. Determine, “I don’t want to be this way any longer.”

Then dig in. Confess your shortcomings, weaknesses, and failures to the One who knows all you can be, who created you to be far more than you can imagine, who’s waiting to fulfill His purpose for you.

Accept His forgiveness and cleansing and let go of every ugly thing, every wart, every blemish. And don’t go back to the garbage heap and pull them out again.

Finally, know this will take time. God isn’t going to wave His hand over you and poof! all your imperfections disappear immediately.

Little by little, day by day, let Him change you, purify you, transform you into the person He created you to be, into the image of His Son. Remember, He who began this good work in you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished (Philippians 1:6 GNT).

Yes, it’s a time of upheaval. But like the road construction sign says, “Temporary inconvenience. Permanent improvement.”

A clean and organized study/writing room gives my muse room to dance!

Dear God, grant me the ruthlessness to pitch what I don’t and won’t need, the insight to discern what to keep, and the long-suffering and energy to sort through it all. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:23–32.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.