Our best friends moved into their new house last weekend (then left for Disney World two days later, but that’s another story entirely. It will suffice to give you an understanding of my bestie’s personality to say that the house is totally unpacked and looks like they have lived there for years, other than a few pictures that still need to be hung. When we moved, I had boxes for months. Months. Some never got unpacked, just eventually moved to storage since I figured if I hadn’t needed whatever was in there yet, I didn’t need it.)
While we were unpacking the kitchen, Marty was giving me instructions on how things should be put away. “That bowl goes inside of those two.” “These pans all stack together.” Eventually she realized that she had a brand-new kitchen with just about double the cupboard space of the previous house, a center island with storage, and a huge walk-in pantry. Stuff didn’t have to be stacked and piled together to fit, just because that was the way it had always been. It could go into the places that had been prepared for it, and the kitchen would be much easier to use.
That got me thinking about my life. How often do I keep pushing thoughts or ideas into the little cramped places that they used to go, instead of all the wide open space God has designed? How many times do I tell myself I’m not really worth much, or that God can use other people because they are talented (smart, spiritual, young, fill in the blank…) but not me? How many times do I revert to old patterns of reacting instead of responding in love or patience? How often do I waste time and emotional energy beating myself up for things of the past that God has forgiven and I can’t change?
It’s kind of interesting to realize that when I squeeze my thinking into the tiny dark cupboards, my emotions go right along and I start to feel small and dark and squeezed. I don’t feel open and happy and ready for whatever God wants to bring my way. But when I realize it, and throw open the doors and let in the light and move out into the wide open space that God made just for me – I can breathe and dance and laugh and move. I can praise and I can think clearly.
Now, I’m married to a very black and white kind of guy. He’s not crazy about metaphors and similes. (You may have noticed that I love metaphors like Brett Favre loves retirement speeches.) And, to be fair, I don’t especially like reading books that tell me I can have a wonderful relationship with God but never say how. So, I do want to (as Dr. Phil says) put some verbs in my sentences. When I say “throw open the doors and let in the light”, I mean stop dwelling on the lies. Stop thinking the thoughts that don’t line up with the Word of God. Instead, read or speak the Word of God as it applies to that situation. If I don’t have a specific scripture, open up the Word and start reading until I feel like I’m back where I need to be. If I can’t do that at the time, pray. Focus on scriptures that remind me of who I am in Christ. If possible, connect with another believer who will build me up. And focus on doing something for someone else.
Do I always do this? Of course not. I am so far from perfect, if perfect was the World Series, I’d be the Cubs. But I am getting better every day, and you know why? Because I am confident that he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. It’s not up to me. I just have to be willing.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. Romans 5:1-2 Msg