Clearing the Clutter

As we continue through our September focus on prayer and discipleship, here’s a little extra something for you, a devotion from an Asbury Theological Seminary student living in Southwest Virginia.

By Suzanne Whittaker

I began this summer with a very long summer reading list. Titles I have neglected to read were dusted off and placed in a beautifully organized pyramid-shaped stack on the nightstand. I was so excited to catch up on all of my reading plans that I even made an official Facebook announcement, complete with picture! And then summer happened.

It’s September and we’ve begun our homeschool lessons and piano practice, and I am rushing to organize everything for the fall semester at Asbury Theological Seminary. That beautifully organized stack of books stands accusingly in the same place—with a few titles gone, at least. One is Out of Chaos by Jessica LaGrone. “Chaos” is not how I would describe my life right now, but it is definitely busy. It is a great read about the amazing “new” that God can, and does, create out of chaos! I highly recommend it.

My big plans for the summer were to work on some forms of chaos in my life. My screened porch comes to mind instantly. For years I have threatened to fix the broken screens, scrap the old paint and put up a fresh coat, hang some blinds to make the evenings much more enjoyable (that sunset is a scorcher!), and put new outdoor carpet down. Today I disposed of three bags of debris, none of which moved me toward the original goals. My putting-off-today-what-could-be-done-tomorrow approach to the porch chores created an environment that prevented any of us from enjoying the porch this summer. It was cluttered with paint chips and leaves blown in from storms, dirt in the corner where a plant had turned over, and stacks of gardening items my teenage daughter, Alyson, uses for her backyard orchard projects. The wood stain used by my daughter to finish her porch swing project was still sitting where my adult ADHD brain had left it two months ago.

The porch became the junk drawer of all junk drawers!

I am writing this after the morning I finally tackled the porch. I began with a general debris pickup and basic organizing of the items. The space is actually usable again. Just a quick hour of work and things were greatly improved. I am planning on power washing the walls and cutting out the remaining screens this weekend. I may even re-glue the carpet. The exciting part is we can begin to enjoy this space again. We will be able to step outside and relax in the chairs or swing, simply enjoying the beautiful blue mountains and the autumn sunsets. Perhaps we will have breakfast at sunrise!

It’s not been hard for me to connect my summer of disorder to our spiritual lives. How often do we clutter them?

Life is both orderly and exciting when we set time aside to go to church, study Scripture, and meet God in a time of meaningful prayer. Life is frustrating when those spiritual activities take a back seat to all the other stuff in our lives. Eventually we notice our light has grown dim and our soul feels lonely.

The good news is that it doesn’t take a power-washing to gain control. You simply need to start with your daily prayers and get back to Sunday sermons and fellowship with your local church family. I’ve always found that no matter how long you’ve been away, the folks at church are always glad to see you!