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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: overstuffed!

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 your heart.
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 Jerusalem.

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


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