The day was going well. I woke early when our cats started walking up my chest and over my head, meowing of course. I engaged in my normal morning routine: couple cups of coffee while opening the laptop to read my daily devotional and catching up on the happenings of the day. Fox News then Facebook; delivering coffee and morning paper to my lovely wife Suzanne, in bed; stretching exercises followed by an hour on the elliptical while watching a Discovery Channel documentary. Now it was back downstairs to chill for a while and cool down.
With ice water in hand, I walked back to the bedroom to check on Suzanne. The bed was made and sounds were emanating from her waik-in closet. As I walked around the corner, I saw a mountain of clothes piled on the floor, her closet door open, and I heard the rustling of hangers.
“What’s up, fair lady?” I asked.
“Morning sweetheart. As I mentioned yesterday, we are cleaning our closets today. I’ve started a Goodwill pile, so feel free to add to it from your closet.”
“My closet is fine for me,” I said quickly. I wanted no part in this. “Good on you, though. Have to take care of something. Be right back to take a shower.”
The day had just taken a tough turn. When wife gets in a clean-out mode, husband is in serious trouble. Delay, deflect, and deny…my only chance. So, I did some more computer work, tried to appear quite busy in the kitchen and headed back to the war zone to take a shower. Now the bathroom floor had suitcases and boxes along with clothes. I hustled to the shower as I heard:
“Honey, I need you to clean your closet. I can barely get in there to hang up your clothes. I always stub my toe on all the things you have on the floor. I need your help since I don’t know what you want to keep.”
“Thanks for your consideration, Babe. Wanna keep it all right now. Many treasures reside in that small space. Just shut my closet door and I’ll take care of hanging everything up…just thinking of you, Darling.”
“Mike, listen to me. If we both die tomorrow, our kids will have to deal with this mess. I don’t want that. It’s time to do a little organizing, which starts with cleaning out.”
“Good point. Tell you what, let’s work our schedules to protect the kids. I will stay home tomorrow until you get back from your errands and then I’ll go do my stuff. That way one of us will still have a good chance of being alive tomorrow night and the kids won’t have to deal with the mess so soon.”
“Mike, quit laughing at me. I’m being serious here.” And, she gave me that look!
Coming out of the shower, I realized I had made no headway in evading–the boxes and suitcases from my closet were between the exit and me. Think, Mike, think. I dressed and went into my closet. I threw a few obvious donation items–faded shirts, an outdated sport coat, and some umpire gear from 1995–onto the pile. Well, my work here was done. I asked if she would like a grilled sandwich for lunch.
“That would be great,” she said as she glanced at the items I’d tossed in. “You have made a nice start with these clothes. After lunch, we’ll really hit your closet.”
My tactic was not working. She had once again grabbed the initiative. After a quick lunch, I went back and started sorting through the multitude of items I had accumulated since I last cleaned out my closet…which I had never really done, so nineteen years of stuff was before me.
More clothes made their way to the Goodwill pile. Papers and empty boxes went to recycling. I was not having fun. I pulled a folder from a large box of folders. It contained my graduation certificate from the Charlie Brown Flying School, Morgantown WV, 1973, awarding me my private pilot’s license. I pulled more items from the box: newspaper clippings from my USAF flying training days, letters of recognition, fighter pilot training grade sheets, letters of thanks for Suzanne’s and my participation in formal events…the list went on and on. I sat on the floor reliving a good portion of my life that seemed so distant now. Some items I could throw away, while many others —Suzanne and I agreed—needed to be kept. Sometime in the future, we would open these folders and share memories of the amazing events which defined our life together. The task of closet cleaning seemed well worth the effort.
The cluttered closet may be more like our lives than we would like to believe. Through the years, our minds store the tenets for a fulfilling life. But we don’t stop there. We stuff in the hurts, the tragedies and our sinful nature. We hang on to regrets, stumbles and personal failures. Soon, we have little room to appreciate the neatly hanging blessings which enrich our lives. We try to keep the door shut so others won’t see our messy collection…but somewhere in the midst of this clutter, we hear the voice of He who sees it all.
Christ tells us if we believe and confess our sins, He wipes the slate clean. He tells us to forgive as we have been forgiven; to throw our doubts, our transgressions, and our misgivings on the altar rail. He tells us to clean out the clutter; He tells us He’ll help us with the process. Once we begin, God can truly clean out ‘our personal closet’ by the blood of Christ; thus He can enter freely and keep us from stubbing our toes and missing out on the inspiring mysteries surrounding us each waking moment. He didn’t say the process would be easy. But, once complete, He assures us we will be able to open our life folder and see the majesty of the life we have lived and the room we have made for His future blessings.
Philippians 3:8 NIV:
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.