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Cleaning Out, by Phil Ware Phil Ware

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    Whew! It was tough, but we got it done. Instead of waiting till Spring, we launched into cleaning out the garage and the attic. It seemed like a good time — it was the right temperature, we were going to have to put away the Christmas stuff anyway, and all of us were home. Sure, it was a big, dirty, ugly job, but we launched into it.

    We’ve gotten rid of a bunch of junk that we were saving for no apparent reason. Anything that hasn’t been used in several years is now gone. We either threw it away or set it aside for a resale shop. No more tripping over it. No more arguing about it. No more letting it clutter up our lives. Our garage and attic are neat, clean, and uncluttered. It’s a minor miracle.

    Now comes the hard part: cleaning out the junk in my heart and head that I’ve been saving for no apparent reason! It’s one thing to get a new start on a new year, a new day, or a new life, but for it to be really new, we’ve got to put down the old bags of garbage and junk. As Rich Mullins put it in one of his last songs, it often seems “we can’t see what’s ahead and we cannot get free of what we’ve left behind” (from the song “Hard to Get”).

We must give them up for us to get on to something new!
    But we can get free. We can clean out the clutter. We may not know what’s ahead, but we can let ourselves go free from what’s behind. It’s not easy. We’re not like God who can forgive the past and then forget it. In fact, the more we try to forget something, the more we seem to remember it. But we can quick picking it up and looking at it. We can set it aside and make room for new things. We don’t have to keep tripping over the same clutter. We can clean it out by giving it up to the Lord — let him forgive it and take lordship over it. But we must give it up — stack up the bundles of our past regrets, mistakes, sins, and hurts and give them up. It may mean writing all our regrets down on a sheet of paper and burning them or burying them. Or it may mean mentally jotting them down and visualizing Jesus taking an eraser and removing them completely. But we must give them up for us to get on to something new!

    I’m not suggesting we simplistically pretend our mistakes and sins didn’t happen. We can’t stop consequences from our past from sometimes reappearing. But we can quit picking up the problems and “what iffing” them to death! We can quit going over them again and again in our minds. We can clean them out and if we re-find them, or they re-find us, we can consciously give them up again!

    Peter denied the Lord three times in his most needed hour. Paul persecuted Christians before he knew the Lord. Neither could completely escape his past. But they chose to set them aside and not live with them. Instead, they chose to live for the Lord and let him take care of the past. As Paul put it, “Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

    So how about the clutter in your heart? Is there anything you need to clean out and throw out so you can go on to the Lord’s future for you? Then clean it out and let him help you start fresh and finish strong!


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