April 18, 2008
It’s like being buried alive in my own office, interred in a terrifying tomb of rubble, swallowed by an ever-growing behemoth of toxic waste, swept away in a continuous avalanche of litter, struggling to break through to the surface only to be pummeled by another flow of seemingly endless debris. Those of you who may think I am launching into hyperbole have obviously never caught a glimpse of my desk in its current condition. It is a clutter catastrophe!
My desktop, which at one time was graced by an organized stack of yet-to-be-paid bills and a few current reading projects, has suddenly erupted into an immense, steadily expanding, volcanic mountain with a resultant debris flow that is threatening to completely inundate my tiny office. The arrival of tax season has brought with it a flood of additional stacks of miscellaneous forms and various receipts which have greatly increased the chaos. Several times in the last few weeks one of my growing piles of clutter has attempted to escape the confines of my desk by spilling onto the floor. After corralling the rebellious debris for the umpteenth time I received a flash of brilliant inspiration. With the addition of a strategically placed TV tray I could increase the area of my desktop and thus accommodate more clutter. Unfortunately, there is now barely enough room for me to sit at my desk and operate my computer. If any more rubble flows down from the summit of “Mount Clutter” I will be forced to abandon my office. Clearly, something needs to be done.
Precisely at this time, in the midst of the worse clutter catastrophe my office has ever seen, just as I am about to go down for the third time and perish beneath the waves of rubbish, the Lord has chosen to chastise me. I hate it when He does that. You would think He could have picked a more convenient, less hectic time for His school of rebuke to be in session. But I have learned there is much to be gained by heeding His instruction no matter when it comes. I have also learned that what I gain from His teaching is better assimilated if I take the time to pass it on to others. Therefore, take note of the following debris flow and standby to download some of my clutter onto your own desktops. Hopefully, this will prove to be well worth taking up room in your life.
The Lord has shown me that the condition of my desk is a fairly accurate reflection of my chaotic life at the moment. Like my office, my daily schedule is suffering from a clutter catastrophe. For weeks I have been complaining to God that the growth of our church planting ministry seems to have slowed dramatically. Some of our home groups are struggling to survive and the once steady flow of new “workers for the harvest” has apparently all but dried up. I have placed the blame for this growth plateau on some of our house church leaders; I have cursed the devil; I have even had a few angry words for the Lord of the harvest. But now God is revealing to me that my own failure to keep my life free from unnecessary clutter is a major factor contributing to our slow down. Ouch, this hurts!
The Lord has me taking a personal inventory of my daily schedule. I won’t bore you with the ugly details but I must confess my typical day is certainly piled high with stacks of nonessential activities. It’s not that these daily pursuits are inherently evil; it’s just that they aren’t helpful toward the goal of kingdom expansion. The result of this chaotic collage of unprofitable, unproductive behavior means I rarely get to bed before midnight which, in turn, means I rarely get enough sleep. Being in a continual state of exhaustion lessens the depth of my devotional life and lowers the effectiveness of my efforts toward expanding the harvest. The sad truth is I am in danger of being buried alive in my own day-planner, interred in a terrifying tomb of time constraints, swallowed by an ever-growing behemoth of toxic sleep deprivation. I get the feeling that if any more clutter flows into my schedule I will be swept away in the avalanche.
Lest you think I am again resorting to hyperbole I suggest you also take a personal inventory of your daily schedule. Invite the Lord to reveal to you any activity which is unproductive to your spiritual growth, behaviors which may on the surface seem harmless but actually reduce the effectiveness of your ministry. I am guessing there are many who are reading these words who are suffering from a similar clutter catastrophe.
It’s not just individuals who suffer from this debris-strewn scheduling malady and who need to engage in a behavioral inventory. Many churches also display similar symptoms. Board meetings, committee meetings, church work days, choir rehearsals, building-fund drives, budget battles, bake sales, and craft fairs are just a few of the items which fill up the calendars of our churches. Tragically, even house churches can fill their gatherings with unfruitful behavior. Again, I’m not saying that these activities are evil. Indeed, some of them might be noble pursuits. They just may not be the most effective actions with which to busy ourselves when it comes to striving toward the goal of expanding the kingdom.
As an individual believer or as a church, do you have the courage and faith to invite the Lord to reveal to you which activities are fruitful toward enlarging the harvest and which are not? Are you ready and willing to have the Lord of the harvest clean off your desktop? Allow me to share some Scriptures which the Spirit brought to my mind to use as tools for clutter removal.
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1.
“No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.” – 2 Timothy 2:4.
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…’” – Luke 10:41-42.
“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5:10-11.
By the way, the Lord revealed to me that I actually did one thing right in my attempt to take care of the clutter in my office. It’s a good idea to set up a tray in order to create more space to hold things. How does this relate to our topic? We need to call in others to help share the load when our ministries get too much for one person to bear. Ministry is meant to be a team sport. Trying to do it all alone is the quickest way I know of to suffer a clutter catastrophe, not to mention a mental, emotional and spiritual meltdown.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” – Ephesians 4:11-12.
The Spirit is telling me I need to stop writing before this message becomes a rubbish heap of left-over thoughts. Besides, I have a clutter catastrophe on my desk that needs to be cleared.
Bill, a child of God, clutter and all