Here in northern New England, it is that time of year again. Vacations are over, kids are back in school, life gets back to “normal”, the weather is cooling down with chilly early mornings, and leaves on the trees are beginning to change. That’s right – These are the things that mark the beginning of Fall around here. In fact, the Fall season officially begins this week! This means one other thing: it is time for Fall Cleaning when we go through home, top to bottom, cleaning every nook and cranny, moving furniture that hasn’t been moved in 6 months, and wondering how all that dust, dirt and grime could accumulate so much since last spring!
This year, we are doing more than just clean. It is time for, what I call, a Fall Overhaul. The Fall Overhaul is comprised of three specific components: clearing out the clutter, cleaning up the mess, and caring for the worn. It is all about getting the home and property looking its best so it can be utilized to its fullest potential. I want to share with you over the few blogs about this process — revealing what it means for our home physically and unveiling what it means for each of us ideologically as we apply the principles to our personal lives.
As I mentioned, we have found a heartfelt need to not only clean, but to also simplify and de-clutter the house and our lives. It is absolutely amazing how much stuff we accumulate over the years! All of the items we possess have served some importance at one point in time and fulfilled some function that was useful and desirable. Eventually most items lose their luster, significance and value. I am finding that, as I get older, “things” just don’t seem as important anymore and many of these items we possess now appear insignificant. Even my wife, who is even more sentimental about some material things than I am (especially those things passed down through the generations), is finding it much easier to say goodbye to those items we have not used in a long time or no longer have need for. She just takes a picture of the item, scrapbooks it, and gives the item away.
De-cluttering for our family this year is more than just clearing the house of unnecessary things, but it is also about clearing house when it comes to our lives, ambitions, and activities. Our lives tend to get cluttered —not necessarily with bad things — but actually with some pretty valuable things. Ministry, relationships, church life, and jobs have possessed a huge part of our lives. But over the last number of years, they rose exponentially to the point where life became so cluttered with busyness doing worthwhile things, but not necessarily the things that we were “called” to do.
I learned a long time ago that Satan is a liar, but he is even a greater master deceiver. Though these sound strikingly similar, they are vastly different. Lies can often be easy to spot, but deceit is much more subtle and catches more people in his snares than outright lies, because there is an element of truth in deceit, although it is perverted truth. Likewise, it is easy to spot the enemy when he tries to lead us down unproductive and unfruitful paths, but much harder to see his handiwork when he allows us and even gives us opportunity to be productive for God. Yes, I believe there are times that Satan allows us and provides ways to be fruitful as long as it keeps us from living God’s best plan for our lives. You see, John 15:5&8 (NIV) says this:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
These verses make it clear that God desires that we don’t just bear fruit, but that we bear MUCH fruit. In fact, if you go back to verse 2, it shares that he prunes the fruitful branch (us) so that we will bear even more fruit. The enemy desires that we be unfruitful. But if he can’t accomplish that, he will do what’s necessary to at least keep us from being all God intends, even if that means allowing us to be fruitful — but less fruitful than “much fruit” — in some other area. He is not so concerned with how far we miss the mark, just that we miss the mark.
There is an interesting thing about verse 2 where it says that God will “prune” us so we bear more fruit. The Greek word translated “prune” is also translated “to clean”. There comes a point in each of our lives that, if we are going to be productive for God, we must let him do more than just prune us. We must let him clean us. We must get pruned of the bad clutter in our lives, but also let God clean and clear out some of that which seems to be “good” clutter.
How do you determine what to let go of and what to hold on to? Revisit the plans, purposes, and dreams that God has given you and wants to fulfill through you. What do you need to make these things a reality? Ask yourself 2 important questions and fill in the blanks:
(1) I need to have more ___________________.
(2) If I did not have ____________________, I could __________________.
Chances are that the things you feel you need more of, you already have. Other things have just been allowed to clutter life, burying those things that are needed so they cannot be invested in what is really important. Know this: you will never be able to focus through the clutter. It must be cleared out to see what you really have that is of value. I have found myself sucked into a television series entitled, “Hoarders: Buried Alive”. It focuses on people who have so much stuff in their homes that it has made living there a health hazard. At best the home has become a place of great discomfort and secrecy. As people intervene and help them clear the clutter, they often find things of value buried beneath the rubble that they had forgotten they had. Get down to business and begin clearing the clutter so you can see what you already have at your disposal.
Well, our house cleaning is just beginning and there is still so much to go. As hard as it is to let some material possessions and sentimental items go, there is a sense of liberation, freedom and peace that has come with the process. There is more room to move around and rearrange things, providing increased flexibility to make space more usable. Getting rid of many of the “things” has actually allowed us to enjoy and focus on what we still have to a greater extent.
I encourage you, as you do your Fall Overhaul this year, to allow God to do some overhauling in your life. Are there things in your life that are just taking up space? Things you are sentimental about, but that hold no value to the plans and purposes God has for you today? Things that are beneficial but that keep you from achieving the best? Yes, the clearing will be hard – it may even hurt – but you will find much more freedom and ability to focus on the things that will make your life more fruitful as God intended when you let them go.
Share your thoughts with us. Until next time … HAPPY CLEARING!!