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 But either we forget we have it or by the time we get around to pulling it out of storage, it’s outdated, rusted, or otherwise useless.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.

 

Eye Troubles

Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word. – Psalm 119:18 TLB

I haven’t had a prescription change for my glasses for years, so when my vision became increasingly blurry, I thought that was the problem.

But no.

“I can change your prescription,” my eye doctor told me recently, “but that will improve your vision only 20 to 30 percent. The problem is cataracts.”

Oh, the joys of growing old.

While I knew I had cataracts for several years, they weren’t bad enough cause any problems besides a slight blurring of my vision, which my glasses corrected – to a point. But as the cataracts progressively worsened and blocked more and more light, they began to interfere with my everyday life. Simple things I took for granted became a struggle.

For example, I can’t recognize faces until the person is almost right in front of me. So if you see me and it appears that I’m ignoring you, I’m not. I just can’t recognize you or see the smile on your face.

Seeing words clearly on the computer monitor is another challenge. I’m a perfectionist, and the number of typos getting past these once eagle eyes irks me to no end. (Yes, I edit emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and other casual forms of written communication.)

I won’t drive at night these days, as the glare of oncoming headlights makes it even more difficult to see. Driving during the day isn’t much better, since I can’t read the road signs until I’m up upon them.

Reading the scoreboard at my grandson’s baseball games is just as frustrating. And you know how big those are.

But this will all change after surgery. I’ll be able to see clearly again! Hallelujah!

We can have spiritual cataracts. They, too, grow slowly, over time. At first we aren’t aware anything is clouding our spiritual vision, but eventually everything that was once clear becomes blurry.

What causes spiritual cataracts?

Many things – and they all block God’s light from entering your spirit.

First on the list is sin. Sin causes us to see things as we want to see them, not as God does. We lose our divine perspective. The cataract gets worse when we deny sin’s existence, continue to do what we know we shouldn’t, and when we justify our wrongdoing (wrong actions, wrong thoughts wrong attitudes).

Another cause of spiritual cataracts is doubt. Doubt, put simply, is not believing God, His Word, His promises, His goodness. When you doubt, God, you are saying, in effect, “I don’t trust You.”

Close to this is the cataract of cynicism. Life has slammed you once too many times, and you’ve lost the ability to see good in any person, situation, or experience. Bitterness builds up, and you erect a wall around your heart, refusing to let anyone in for fear of getting hurt again.

Lack of passion for God and His Word is another cause of spiritual cataracts. When I first became a believer, I was on fire for God. When I read His Word, understanding, excitement, and enthusiasm filled me. Joy overflowed. But as time went on and life happened, the fire sputtered.

Like with any fire, you can’t expect it to burn on its own. A fire needs fuel. And that fuel is taking the time for God – to talk to Him in prayer, to read His Word whether or not I understand it, to consciously be aware of His abiding presence in my life.

This leads to my final cause of spiritual cataracts: busyness. I must carve out time to sit down, read the Word, and talk to God. While it could be any time, I find morning, before I begin my day, is best. Because if I don’t, I get so caught up crossing things off my to-do list, the day is over and I haven’t taken time with God.

I keep a quote by Hudson Taylor on the front page of my prayer journal: “Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.”

The remedy for spiritual cataracts is the same as for physical ones: Removal. Confess sin, dispel doubt, squash cynicism, starve apathy, and boot out busyness.

Eye trouble? Here are some Scriptures to help you:

“Fix my eyes on Your ways” (Ps. 119:15 ESV).

“Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word” (Ps. 119:18 TLB).

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps. 119:37 ESV).

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:10–40

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Image in public domain.