During the holidays, I temporarily stored the seasonal decorations out on our porch. My son and his family had come home for an extended visit, so as I took “fall” down, and put “Christmas” up, I tossed everything I didn’t need out the door just to get it out of the way. It was a quick, out-of-sight, out-of-mind solution for containing the chaos, and I secretly dreaded the day of reckoning that was sure to catch up with me, “The Day After Christmas!”
When the kids left on the 26th, I opened the porch door and promptly began to organize the decorations into “keep” and “give-away” bins. My oldest daughter, Claire, offered to lend a hand, and in about an hour, we had most of the mess under control. I was in a real good “throw it out mood,” too, which always helps! We easily filled two bins with unwanted holiday “treasures” to give to the Goodwill, and the rest went back up in the attic. After surviving the dynamics of a multi-generational household for over a month, decluttering felt good! Every unwanted item that slipped through my fingers seemed to lighten my load, but truthfully, I was doing more that organizing the chaos, I was unburdening my soul.
My elderly father who lived with our family for six years, passed away last fall. “Grandpa” as we affectionately called him, loved the Lord with all of his heart, soul, and strength, and he couldn’t wait to go home. He was a real character (he had quite a following on Facebook), and even though he struggled with physical limitations due to Parkinson’s, his spirit was undaunted. Mentally he was “all there” and over the years the Word of God had so transformed him, he was nothing like the self-absorbed father I had grown up with. He had truly become a new creature in Christ! This last Christmas was our first without him, and we all miss him dearly.
And now that the New Year is well underway and I’m not a caregiver anymore, I’m feeling a bit displaced. I still haven’t made a list of resolutions or contemplated yearly goals. My energy has been mostly focused on routine, everyday responsibilities as I care just for my family again (they’re enjoying having my undivided attention). I don’t have the strength to muster up a new plan of attack for making any changes that need to be made – not just yet. In fact, I’m sure I need a New Year’s extension! How about you?
For most of us, the arrival of the New Year is out-of-sight, out-of-mind until it is upon us. We may make a few last minute token resolutions, like exercising more or reading through the Bible in a year, but before you know it, our good intentions are derailed by reality, i.e. “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Another famous saying that fittingly applies is: “Time and tide wait for no man (or woman for that matter).” Even the fortune cookie I opened at my favorite Chinese restaurant struck a redundant chord, “If you don’t have a plan for your life, someone else will!”
However, lest I be accused of throwing the proverbial New Year’s resolution out with the January bath water, and to satisfy my curiosity, I thought I might see if the word resolution is even in the Bible. Well, I’m here to say it is, and after a little contemplation, I have a new perspective on the subject that is very freeing.
In Isaiah 46:9-11 the Lord proclaims. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure . . . yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Yatsar as in, I have purposed it, means to mold into a form; especially as a potter; figuratively, to determine (i.e. form a resolution): earthen, fashion, form, frame, make(-r), potter, purpose.
What impressed me about this definition is that whatever God has purposed for our lives, He will accomplish. In the seasons when we are struggling just to do the next thing, God is working at refashioning, remaking, and repairing the cracks in these broken pots of clay. It’s what the Master Potter does best! He’s using everything that touches our lives to mold and make us into His image. He’ll never abandon us in a hopeless state, spoiled and useless on the wheel of life, or leave us to gather dust on a forgotten shelf somewhere, labeled “reject.”God is faithful and committed to fashioning us into beautiful vessels of His own choosing, intended for His good pleasure.
And especially powerful to remember is a verse from Job: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted”(42:2). We need to get this truth deep down in our spirits. No purpose of God’s can be thwarted! When we fail to plan or fall short of our goals and dreams, when we become frustrated by changes we have yet to make or discouraged by desires unmet, when circumstances knock us off our feet and we don’t know which way is up, we can trust God to perform His Word over us. “. . . yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”
With this wonderful knowledge, we can face the New Year in complete confidence that God will accomplish all that concerns you and me. “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands”(Psalm 138:8).
Here are more scriptures for decluttering from the inside out:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”(Romans 12:2).
“So shall my word be that go forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”(Philippians 1:6).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”(Romans 8:28).
“Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:1-2).