I am so glad it is finally Spring. I
mean, not only for the obvious reasons: Sunshine,
Flowers, Green grass, Sunsetting at 7:30 pm,
Baseball! But also, Cleaning.
Here’s what I mean. Just behind me is the closet
where I hang my winter weather attire during the
winter months. At the risk of being on the receiving
end of some judgment, this closet looks like I do
after the first trip around the Thanksgiving table:
I mean, there is literally a scarf peeking out from
beneath the closet that looks like a tongue hanging
out of a mouth. It is pretty typical for this closet
to get this cluttered and unorganized by this time
of year. The messy state of what is behind this
closet door bothers me, not only for obvious reasons
but also because I’m not really taking advantage of
the space to know where each article of clothing
hangs. By now, the organization I started within
this winter closet is all but gone. I’ve gotten lazy
and see that my mittens and gloves, scarves, and
stocking caps haven’t always made it into the tote
that stores them.
Friends, as much as I hate to admit it, this closet
might well reflect a lot of my interior life.
The rhythm I had at the beginning of Lent is
offbeat. Distractions have crept in, and I have
yielded to the temptation of busyness. Busyness has
distracted me, and I have compromised presence for
production. Production has infiltrated my heart, and
a hurried way of living now interrupts the slow,
steady work of God.
The intentionality with which I wanted to live has
become replaced by impulse; it’s a mere afterthought
if you will. How will I return to center? How will I
get the closet of my heart back in order? By
returning to Christ.
By returning to that wild place where we were
confronted by the Tempter to ask ourselves: How did
I get here? I must return to him by…decluttering the
pathway to my heart; letting go of unrealistic
expectations placed on me by myself and others;
naming out loud is fighting for my attention, then
choosing the better part; turning away from
perfection as we define it and moving toward
wholeness as God created it; and opening Scripture,
slowing down as I read, and giving pause…to
allow…the Spirit…to illumine my heart.
“The reign of God is within you”
(Luke 17.21). Seek it first. Declutter the way to
Detach from the patterns and habits that have moved
you away from the center. Repent. Return. Remember.
Even in the cluttered messes of our lives, God is
with us. God is there, inviting us deeper into our
more real, better selves. Of course, to get to this
place, we have to deal with our clutter; we have to
open the closet knowing it’ll all spill out; and we
have to do the work of hanging things back up,
setting aside the items we no longer need, and
folding and replacing back into the tote whatever
has fallen out.
Friends, that is the Lenten journey. The core
message of Lent—and of Jesus—is that the real joy
and peace God promises can never be reached by
bypassing suffering and death or ignoring the messes
in our lives but only by going right through them.
Remember, as we travel with Jesus from Galilee to
Jerusalem, we see in Jesus the truth about
everything that distracts, disturbs, and disrupts us
in this life: God’s love is stronger than all of
these—including death—therefore, none of them will
have the last word.
Jesus invites us into the messiness of our lives
with the same trust he had as he moved closer to
It is up to us to declutter our closets, denounce
the diversions in our lives, and discover the door
that takes us deeper into the heart of Christ.
How great it is that this all takes place during the
season when life returns right outside the window!
Goodness, I love spring!
Pastor Adam Quinn, First
Presbyterian Church in Lincoln