When I start working on something new it begins by filling a need. Though as I look back on the course of my life I wonder if perhaps if this has been the driving force behind all my decisions. Does this fill a need? If not, then it is quickly discarded and forgotten. If yes, then I find a place on the shelf for it in clear view. How often do we all do this? Some people hold onto items for sentimental value at the cost of their own lives, while others quickly discard the unnecessary things even if they had sentimental value at some point. I would classify myself as the latter.
Growing up my father used to get mad at me when I would clean my room. I know, odd that a parent would get angry when it already difficult enough to get a child to clean anything. For a little context when I cleaned my room I would go through every possession that I had, which were all bought by my parents, and trash what wasn’t useful. After I was done I would have one large black trash bag full of discarded items and trash to haul to the dumpster. I genuinely hated clutter as a kid and strove to make my life as clutter free as possible. My father, however, would be angry at me because I would get rid of blank notebooks, paper, books, or stuff that wasn’t useful to my own needs anymore. From my father’s perspective he would see only about half of my discarded junk as useful, but he definitely didn’t like that I would always try to get rid of it. So after a few years I started organizing my piles into pure trash and stuff that I assumed my father would want to keep. I am sure it made him a little happier to see that he didn’t have to get upset with me anymore, but also so that he could see better what I didn’t need and find it a better place.
As an adult I know that same clutter-free problem still existed and has on a few occasions impacted my marriage. My wife loves to go to thrift stores, yard sales, and other stores to find the right items for our home. In her mind she wants to take the barren landscape of our house and make it warm, cozy, and ultimately a home for the family. Even though this doesn’t fit with my mindset I try my best to allow her that freedom to discover a new treasure that someone is discarding. On several occasions I still look at her discoveries as “junk” (a word my wife dislikes) because from my point of view I want my house to be organized and not a war zone of stuff that I have to trip over or avoid. It usually comes down to me questioning her decisions or trying to talk her out of a purchase because “we simply don’t need it”. During those moments I know that I am attempting to fill my self serving need to be clutter-free and am not allowing my wife the freedom to express and make our house a home. My heart which God pulls on often makes me accutely aware of my mistakes, but by the time I feel it the battle is done. I hate the fact that my head gets in the way of my ability to show my wife that I love her. At one point I tried to accept the fact that while I may fail the moments that I get it right allow God’s unconditional love to flow through me to my wife so that I can see her as He sees her. Though the more I thought about the less I approved of that decision and hated the fact that I was giving in to a lie. I should be able to see my wife all the time through God’s eyes and the thing getting in the way are my desires.
I am reminded of some key verses from John 15 when I hit this road of failure:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 ESV
When I fail I am relying on myself and no one can deny that including me. When I dwell in Jesus and am filled with his unending love and grace I see my wife differently because I am seeing her as God would see her. That view of her is the reason why I married her and the reason my daughter is such a blessing to me, because my wife endured much to bring her into this world. I see all that we have accomplished through of our love of God and one another. All things can be overcome in Jesus when we dwell with him.
The fear and anger arises when we turn away from Him and attempt to correct what we think He isn’t doing or won’t do for us. When the reality is that He is always looking after us. God sent His only Son into this world in order to save us from our sin and to bring us to the knowledge of Him. We are His children if we ask Him into our hearts then He will enter and change us forever.
Everyday has new challenges and struggles to overcome, but instead of looking at those fearfully we should ask God what challenges and struggles can I overcome for Him today. Now, that doesn’t mean we conquer them on our own, but that we charge forward with God. When we can look at our lives with God’s perspective we will immediately understand that nothing is insurmountable because he has already overcome it all.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV
What challenges is God asking you to overcome today?