Restored and Redeemed

Has your marriage been restored? Restored & Redeemed is a devotional for those in a restored marriage.

What’s Behind That Closet Door?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 

In our home, Missy and I are fortunate to have a wonderful closet space just off the kitchen, which serves as a pantry for larger food items and a storage area for household items.  We decided a few years back to put some effort into cleaning it up to make it more usable as a pantry and storage and not just a junk closet.  We spent the better part of a day cleaning out the whole closet of its accumulated clutter, cleaning and repairing the built-in shelves, putting down new vinyl tiles, and putting in additional shelving units.

Then I set about organizing the pantry and storage to best accommodate the items we wished to have a permanent home. I surveyed the various sundry of things that needed to go into this space. In the end, the newly appropriated pantry/storage closet had a place for everything and even a spot for the vacuum which never had a permanent home before.  All of that, AND you could still step inside to access the items you needed.  It was quite a feat of storage engineering even for someone well versed in the packing arts. It took several attempts at placing the various items to divine the most efficient use of the available space.  I’m sure you would have been duly impressed if you had seen it.

You see, the thing about organization is when an item is taken from its place, said item must then be returned to its rightful place to maintain the intended organization. No new items may be introduced into the organized arrangement without careful consideration of how that item might affect all of its surroundings.  How long do you suppose that arrangement remained as I designed it to be?  If you guessed about 3 ½ days, you’d be pretty close.  That’s the thing about life, isn’t it?  Life is messy.  Life is hectic.  Life is busy and fast-paced, and we, if we are not careful, can pretty quickly let the best of our intentions fall into disarray through our inattention.  Now, Missy and I never intended for that closet to become disorderly.  Our intention in undertaking the organization of that space was to neatly fit all the items we had for the pantry into the available space and make it accessible for our daily use.

It is frustrating when we think about all the extra work we create for ourselves by not paying closer attention to those areas that tend to overrun us.  When we think about those tendencies creeping into our spiritual lives, the implications become much more troubling.  In Luke 11:24-26, Jesus talked about a situation like our cluttered closet, which can happen to us spiritually.  He talks about a person who is rid of an unclean spirit and gets their life cleaned up and put in order.  Then once their house has been put in order and left alone as a job well done and completed, the evil spirit returns along with several of his friends and takes up residence again, which one can only presume would make an even bigger mess out of things than the way it was before.

The question remains, how do we keep our lives cleaned up once Jesus has come and done the work of clearing out the bad and setting our houses in order?  The good news is that the Bible gives us the tools we need to do just that.  Ephesians 5:25-28 speaks to us about how husbands and wives are to conduct themselves in Christ Jesus, but it also gives us an important insight into an action we can take to keep ourselves moving in the direction of godliness and not fall back into our old patterns of sin.  In that passage in Ephesians, Paul tells us about becoming sanctified by the washing of the water of the word.  As followers of Christ, our greatest treasure and source of strength is His Word which has been so graciously provided to us.  We have the right and the responsibility to be in His Word each day to continually wash our minds and sanctify our walks through the power found in scripture.  Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is alive and active; it is the living Word to speak to our hearts in the here and now.   Philippians 4:8 tells us to meditate on those things which are pure and honorable and lovely. These are the things we have the opportunity to fill our lives with instead of the things of this world which seem to invade our minds and our hearts so prevalently.

I know from experience that just like the way that closet gets slowly cluttered and filled with junk, my own life can become slowly overtaken by the thoughts of this world and the pattern of sin that used to reign in my life.  Without really even being that aware of the process, I can find my heart darkened by the junk of this world, which I have let creep in by not keeping my thoughts and heart turned completely to God.  When I neglect the daily “cleaning schedule” of being in God’s Word and meditating on those things which are pure and holy, the spaces I leave open in my heart begin to be filled by the steady stream of influence this world inevitably hammers us with.

From time to time, I’m sorry to admit, it still takes a little bit of a “reset” on my heart to allow Jesus into all of the corners of my heart to clear out the junk that is cluttering my life and weighing me down as I attempt to live this life for and in Christ. This is why the author of Hebrews tells us in chapter 12 to put off the sin that so easily entangles us and run our race with endurance.  To run that race with the required strength demands that we keep our eyes upon Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith.  Thank God that we are assured that when we reach those moments in our lives, when we realize that we have slipped into old patterns of thought and allowed those old familiar sins to encumber us yet again, we can bring that burden to the cross with a repentant heart and our God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Jesus is the point of this life we have chosen to live, and He is the one who showed us how it’s done.  The only way to succeed and to continue to succeed is to do it His way. Praise God that His way is easy, and the burden of this life as compared to the burden of sin is so very light (Matthew 11:30).  My prayer for you and myself is that we remember that each day as we strive to follow our Lord and Savior and run this race set before us with endurance looking forward to the joy set before us.

God bless,

Greg Holman

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