Ever feel like you just cannot "pull it all together"? You just feel like you are under a mountain of stuff and cannot seem to see any relief on the horizon? Well, I doubt you are in it alone! Sometimes we just need a good "garage sale" to clean out the "stuff" which buries us so deeply! We had the opportunity to have a garage sale this weekend. It was made nicer because my two children joined and the neighbor across the street also had stuff out for buyers to find their bargains. I wonder at the many people who come, some just shopping for the bargain, but others on a very specific mission - finding the one item they desire. Either way, they were here to unburden us of the mound of stuff we had accumulated which we really had no use for!
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (Romans 5:1-2 MSG)
It was the signs, posted with care at each opportunity to draw folks to the sale, which guided them to the destination. It was also the little free advertisement on the website which advertises these events. Either way, whether they "stumbled upon" the signs, or purposefully sought the destination by following the advertisement, they came! What we hoped for was to unburden ourselves - what they hoped for was to take home the treasure they sought. Hmmm....I think salvation is a little bit like this. We hope to be unburdened from the stuff which only "clogs up" our lives - God hopes to take the greatest treasure he could find home to be part of his family.
Looking at our passage today, we see Paul laying out a couple of things we will do well to consider:
- We enter into what God wants to do for us by faith. If we only give this a cursory glance and move on, we miss something very important. God has had this gift of grace prepared for us for a long time - we just have to reach out to take hold of it. It is like the people seeing the signs along the roadway - they had to turn first this way, then that, until they came to the destination of the sale. We often need to pay attention to the signs in life, placed carefully along the ways we travel, designed to draw us into the place we find the greatest treasure of our lives. God did all the preparation - he laid out the course, provided all the neat stuff we would come to experience, and he even prepared a way for us in advance of us even knowing we'd follow that path! When we pay attention to the signs and make the decision to actually follow them, we are doing so by faith. We don't know what awaits us at the final destination, but we trust it will be something awesome!
- It is God who sets us right with him, not us. Sometimes we go about this whole salvation thing from the wrong perspective. We think we can clean up our own act and somehow unburden ourselves of the junk which has accumulated in our inner man. The problem is - we often justify a reason for holding onto the junk (after all, it may have a use down the road). I really spent some time before the garage sale going through cupboards, closets, and the like. Not everyone is thoroughly cleaned out, but many are devoid of the clutter and the "stuff" which might one day find a use. Most of us need to realize we might have "cleaner cupboards" if we'd let God clean them out! The truth is, we justify the need for some "stuff" in our lives - God, on the other hand, knows the "stuff" only clutters us!
- God is all about creating "wide open spaces" in our lives. His goal in providing for our "emptying" is to allow us to enjoy the sensation of living unburdened (uncluttered). If you have ever lived in really close spaces for a period of time, then moved into a bigger space, you might just understand this a little better. When I was in the military, I crammed as much of my "life" into a 10 x 12 foot space as possible. Stereo, shelves, fridge, bunk, desk, chair, locker, and all my worldly belongings. It was crowded. Then I got married and we got a two-bedroom apartment off-base. Wow! What a difference! We had so much space! Then, one day, we looked around and saw we not only filled the space of the two-bedroom apartment, we filled a small storage unit in the basement, as well! Aye! What we did was move from one "cluttered" space into another! Just bigger! That is how we are - we want to "handle" our clutter by getting a bigger space. God wants to clear us out - giving us "grace space". You know - the place where we come to experience his love, enjoy his presence, and really live free of the clutter we have held onto so long. Clutter like unforgiveness, resentment, fear, doubt, and the like. Instead of clutter, we come into God's "grace space" - and a mighty fine space it is!
Now, being free of a "little" clutter is good. Being free of the "big" clutter is better. Being "clutter-free" is best! Just sayin!