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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Junk drawers beware!

I remember hearing my pastor teach about what we model vs. what we say. It goes without saying, we often model something different from what we say. The "modeling" we "do" is sometimes louder than the "modeling" we give in the form of advice, shared knowledge, etc.  Wisdom is the application of knowledge - wisdom is "modeled" knowledge.  If you have ever begun a project like spring cleaning your junk cabinet or drawer, you will appreciate this illustration. When you clean the first cabinet, rearranging all the stuff which haphazardly finds its way into the shelves over the course of the year, changing the shelf paper to freshen up the look, and close the first cabinet door, you soon remember there are twenty or so other cabinets which need to receive all the stuff you took out of the first which did not belong!  You go onto the second one, not just content to put the stuff in there in no particular order, but you undertake the same venture with this one.  Before long, your cupboard cleaning becomes an all-day affair!  What you didn't plan becomes an all-consuming cleaning marathon!  The issue - you didn't plan this - it just crept up on you and overtook you!

A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.  Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit.  (Proverbs 12:11-12 NLT)

Fools chase this whim and that fancy.  Wise people have a plan to their attack.  What I described above was probably kind of silly, but you get the idea of just setting out aimlessly only to find yourself consumed by whatever has your focus at the moment.  I have done this type of "spring cleaning" marathon.  It started with one drawer - but after a short period of time, I got distracted from the drawer by the more urgent need to straighten the cabinet. The cabinet lead me into a completely different room for the demands of yet another drawer or cabinet.  Before long, the first project stood incomplete and I had several new ones to boot!  

Divided priorities will get you in this kind of a muddle.  It is best to have a plan - but no plan is good unless it aligns with God's priorities for your life.  I think we could carry this drawer/cabinet cleaning thing into our spiritual lives, as well.  We often think we will spend some time focusing on the "junk drawer" in one part of our lives, only to find it has stuff in it which takes us to the next place and then the next.  Before long, we become so scattered in our focus, we lose focus.  With God's help, we need to keep our priorities straight - fixed on what matters to him at this moment.

One word of caution - no "priority" is worth sacrificing a relationship over!  We sometimes get so caught up in the task at hand, the thing which promises such delight once we have attained it, but neglect the relationships we needed to cultivate all along the way.  The thing became our priority.  Having a clean house and no one to share it with is quite a drag!  

For most of us, we focus so intently on what we cannot possibly accomplish - making the pursuit of priorities kind of monumental.  For others, the focus is on what they can do - making the pursuit of priorities more realistic, but to others it seems like there will not be a positive outcome when "so little" is available to expend on the pursuit.  There needs to be a healthy balance between what we "can" and "cannot" do when establishing priorities in our lives.  God may ask us to do something which seems like it is weighted heavily on the "cannot" side of the list.  I cannot teach because I don't have formal training.  I cannot possibly reach that group of people because I have never lived like they have.  You get the idea.  

The "cannots" can actually play upon our emotions and keep us from pursuing the priorities God has for us.  All God ever asks of a man or woman is to entrust their lives to him - not to be perfect at doing everything, but to believe him to do what we cannot.  He loved.  He gave.  We believe.  We live. (John 3:16).  God's desire is for us to focus on the "cans" in our lives.  The priorities which will come out of the pursuit of what we "can" do will be taken care of by him as we step out in commitment to what he asks.  We focus on the doing - he focuses on us being.  Being in him, being with him, being all in for him!  Just sayin!