Cleaning the Closet

The snow storms seem to come one right after the other right now.  I was just getting over the deep disappointment of having Ash Wednesday services canceled when John Morse and I decided to postpone the consecration service for the new Coopersville UMC yesterday because of bitter cold, high winds and treacherous roads.  The Grand Rapids District Conference was impossible to reschedule, so 30 faithful souls showed up at South Wyoming UMC in the afternoon to enact the annual business of the district.

Because I didn’t have to travel to Coopersville in the morning, I had a few extra hours before attending worship at First Church in Grand Rapids.  I confess that I did something I have never, ever done on a Sunday morning.  I cleaned out my clothes closet!  My messy closet had bothered me for months.  My shoes were all jumbled in a pile, sweaters were wadded together on the shelves, and there was stuff all over the floor.  In 90 minutes I threw away a garbage bag full of stuff, filled another garbage bag of clothes to go to Goodwill, arranged my shoes and washed the floor.  I’ve always been a pretty neat person, but over the years, cleaning and organizing at home has become less of a priority.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times #1 bestsellers Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.  In a recent column, Mackay referred to a poll by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), which found that during organizing projects, a whopping 78% of us have found money or un-cashed checks.  Even more amazing is that 26% of respondents have even found $1,000 or more.  For many, it literally pays to de-clutter!

Getting organized also saves money.  Mackay cited a Wall Street Journal report that “the average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information from messy desks and files.  For an employee earning $75,000 a year, that translates to a loss of $9,221.  For a company with 100 employees at that salary, it translates to nearly $1 million in lost productivity.”

In my family, I am known for leaving money all over the place, but it’s almost always small bills.  Unfortunately, I found no money in this organizing project, although I did locate a missing purse, a favorite fanny pack, a still damp bathing suit from months ago, a few forgotten Christmas presents, and several pairs of old running shoes that I wanted my daughter to take on an upcoming mission trip to Cuba.

I have to admit, I felt pretty smug on the way to church, marveling at my clean closet floor.  It set me to thinking about all the other clutter in my life that prevents me from experiencing the grace of Jesus Christ and seeing others through God’s eyes.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened the church bulletin and read these words from poet, mystic and theologian Howard Thurman, “Seek ye the Lord while God is near.  This does not mean that God will withdraw from me, but it does mean that if I quench the desire to seek God over and over again, there may come a time when the desire itself becomes buried beneath all kinds of debris in my own life.  See ye the Lord, while the Lord may be found!”

Could the act of cleaning out my closet be a symbol for my Lenten journey with Jesus to the cross?  Do I need to clear out the cobwebs in my heart so that I can offer myself more deeply to Christ?  Is God calling me to make a clean sweep of my entire life in order to prepare for the next step of the journey?

Those questions are not only appropriate for us as individuals, but we need to ask them of our congregations as well. 

  • What do we need to dispose of in our churches so that we can get about the business of making disciples for the transformation of the world? 
  • What myths do we need to dispel in order to educate our congregations in the area of stewardship? 
  • What debris needs to be cleared away so that our congregations can become saving stations, lighthouses of hope in a dark world? 

Fortunately, we have just the conference for you and your congregation! 
Bishop’s Day #2 is almost upon us.
Cornerstone UMC in Caledonia
Saturday, March 1 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
We’re hoping for 400 people.
Register through the brochure or online at www.cornerchurch.org
All pastors and at least 6 lay persons from each church are expected to be present.
We have lot of extra brochures in the district office.
Our theme: Clean Sweep: Evangelism and Stewardship De-cluttered

I am hoping to do some more cleaning before March 1.  I think I’ll tackle the freezer next, then maybe get started on the basement.  And if I find any money, I promise to donate it to the church.   

Blessings, Laurie

P.S. Can I ask for one small favor?  Could you please pray for no snow for Bishop’s Day this year?

P.P.S. Gary and I will be leaving on Thursday for the Grand Rapids District mission team trip to Haiti.  We’ll return on Friday, February, 22.  The team covets your prayers.

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