Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Cluttered Closet

Recently I noticed something about my inner world.

It seems that most of us have enough storage and closet space, at least until we get more stuff.  Then we pack the shed, we pack the other side of our two-car garage, or we pack that spare closet where everything seems to disappear like a black hole.  It seems to be a common condition, the conspicuous consumers that we are.  We tend to amass more and more stuff.  Until one day we are forced by age, failing health, or divine sanity, to simply downsize and purge all the unnecessary stuff we've accumulated over time.

In like manner, early on in my walk of faith, my prayer closet was relatively free of clutter and comfortable – almost spacious.  It was a place where I could have some room and get alone with God.  It was small but accommodating in a Holy kind of way.  It was a place where I would regularly go to escape the clutter of my day to day life and routine.  It was indeed a place to breathe and be in communion with my Lord and my Maker.

But something happened along way.  As time and life began to accumulate around my ankles like a rising tide, I began to take more stuff into my prayer closet.  I began to split my communion time with complaining time.  Then I added all my burdens and fears.  Then I brought in my baggage from the past and the baggage of others.  Somehow thinking God was supposed to carry all my burdens and cares and likewise give me a light yoke and an easy load.  Right?

I mean, He did promise that kind of benevolent relief from the cares of this world.  So eventually my prayer closet – like most of the closets in my house, became full of junk.  Stuff accumulated over the years that I off-loaded to God.  All that stuff that seemed impossible to carry on my own, and rightly so.  The Lord indeed wants me to cast my cares upon Him.

But something was drastically wrong.  I used the place that was meant to be an intimate spot of communion, love and refreshing, as a dumping ground for all the things I couldn't handle on my own.  How could that be so wrong?

I’ll tell you.  God want’s all my burdens and cares.  He wants me to boldly come before His throne of grace to find mercy and help in time of need.  But above and before all of those provisions – He wants me.  He wants my love and my time.  And He wants to reciprocate.

My prayer closet was NEVER supposed to be a dumping ground, yet that’s what it became.  It became a cluttered closet too full of my junk and the junk of others.  Too cluttered and full for me to find room for rest and comfort with my Lord and my Maker.

So I've decided to clean out my prayer closet.  I’m going to collect all that junk and take it to the altar of God’s immeasurable grace.  Oh there is a place for my junk and all that stuff, but that place is NOT my prayer closet – my secret place with God.

For only by purging and maintaining a Spartan prayer closet will I gain the wisdom and power needed to haul all the other junk to it's proper altar and place of petition.

Dear Lord please forgive me for having A Cluttered Closet.  Forgive me for a cluttered prayer closet that was no longer a place of rest and restoration, but a place that had become a distraction from the one who I need most – You.

A Cluttered Closet, do you have one?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Comfort of Discomfort

One of the most profound stories in the gospels is the account of where John the Baptist (BTW not really a Baptist but don’t tell them) was confronted with his disciples going over to follow Jesus.  He understood something that I am still growing to fully understand.  God’s increase is predicated upon my decrease: The Comfort of Discomfort.

It doesn't make much sense that we could gain any comfort from being discomforted, but that tends to be what the Kingdom and our relationship with God is all about.  And no I’m not suggesting that I must somehow pay penance so as to be blessed or so God can be exalted.  That is not the case, but I am suggesting that God will not share His glory with anyone or anything.  So as a result, in my soul I hear the Spirit of God reminding me that my true comfort will be found as I am discomforted; only and all for His sake and not my own.

I admit that it seems very counterproductive and counter intuitive to place discomfort before comfort, but as we observe life we find this principle in place, and rarely if ever do we argue with its premise.  A good example is health and fitness: no pain no gain?

But why is it that I struggle with this principle when it comes to my soul life?  Is it that my soul is so enamored with self-seeking comfort and satisfaction that I fail to understand the “no pain no gain” principle?  Likely it is.

My hope is that a day will come when I finally and fully understand with great peace and contentment the power and freedom found in this principle set forth by Christ’s own life – The Comfort of Discomfort.  As Jesus moved closer and closer to His primary purpose for coming to this earth, He gained great joy and comfort as He ran headlong into His very own discomfort - death.  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross that He might declare it is finished and find the true comfort of the Father.

The Comfort of Discomfort – an elusive doctrine indeed, but an essential one nonetheless if I am to ever live in the fullness of His perfect and comforting will.