“I found your office looking on the internet,” a relative said when we were visiting my wife’s home town.”
“Oh really,” I answered, wondering why she would be so interested?
“We’ve never had a chance to visit your church so I decided to check it out online. Your sanctuary is beautiful and the family life center is interesting but have you seen your office?” she pressed on.
“Actually, I haven’t. Why do you ask?” Now, I was really curious. What was her point?
“I made a copy for you. Maybe you should take a peek.” She said with a mischievous grin.
Preserved in glossy 8 by 11 Technicolor was my office in all it’s… (gulp) glory? Maybe a better word would be extreme clutter or disaster area or “this site should be condemned” or maybe a bomb crater? Papers were strewn all over my desk. You could hardly see my computer for the mess. A lamp shade was tilted at 45 degree angle. In the background were pictures, books and old mementos scattered all about.
I was embarrassed, ashamed and yes humiliated. I knew something needed to be done but it wouldn’t be right to eliminate my entire family? Would it? Okay, get serious Larry, but something needed to be done.
Clutter often involves more than just our office. Chuck Swindoll in his book, “So, You Want to Be Like Christ?” writes a chapter on “Simplicity, Uncluttering our Minds.” At one point Chuck shares five steps toward achieving a cluttered mind. As I read each statement, I was forced to declare myself: Guilty!
- Say yes every time someone asks you to do something.
- Don’t plan any time for leisure and rejuvenation.
- Don’t be satisfied with your accomplishments – keep moving.
- Max out your credit cards beyond what you can repay.
- Acquire all the latest technology so you can simplify your life.
Yes, I say yes far too often. Yes, I plan very little time for leisure and rejuvenation. Yes, I am seldom satisfied with my accomplishments. I do keep moving. Yes, I’ve taken on too much debt this year. Yes, I’ve often acquired the latest technology hoping for a simpler life only to find myself maintaining yet another gadget. Where does it all end? I confess! I am also guilty of a cluttered mind and a cluttered life.
Max Lucado wrote in “Cure for the Common Life:” We are a nation that believes in having it all. In 1950 American families owned one car and saved for a second. In 2000 nearly 1 in 5 families owned three cars or more… Americans shell out more for garbage bags than 90 of the world’s 210 countries spend for everything. In 1900 the average person living in the US wanted 72 different things and considered 18 of them essential. Today the average person wants 500 things and considers over 100 of them essential.”
Our prosperity however carries a hefty price tag. Most of us feel the stress of a hectic, cluttered lifestyle.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians: “I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. For I promised you as a pure bride to one husband, Christ. But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent. You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you…” (11:2-3) When our lives are cluttered we can more easily be led astray.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote a beautiful poem that begins: “One ship drives east and another drives west with the selfsame winds that blow: ’Tis the set of the sails and not the gales, which tells us the way to go.”
Two ships driven by the wind, yet one stays on course. Are you sailing where you desire or caught in the gales of a cluttered lifestyle? The answer is found in the word: simplify. We must learn to simplify our lives. The reward is a life less complicated, not more. You will have more time, not less. And the fruit is the opportunity to enjoy a long-lasting, satisfying, rewarding, intimate relationship with almighty God.
Next week: “I want to get rid of the clutter in my office and my life… but how?”