Have you heard the story about the man who was so enthralled with his wealth that he contacted God and asked if he could bring it to heaven with him? God told him it really wasn’t allowed, but the man insisted. He had worked hard all his life and he requested a special dispensation to bring at least one suitcase of stuff along when he died. Finally, God relented and okayed one suitcase.
Years later the man died and arrived at the pearly gates with a suitcase full of gold bricks. St. Peter very nicely told him he could not bring it in to heaven. The man asked him to call God and verify that it was okay. So St. Peter called up God and posed the question. God asked St. Peter to look in the suitcase and tell Him what this man deemed so important it had to come to heaven with him? St. Peter said, “Well, sir, his suitcase is full of road paving material.”
I heard this story several years ago and laughed. But it really isn’t a laughing matter when we begin to value the things of earth so highly. I am guilty of this myself. Today as I was driving to a meeting I was thinking about the closet in my office. It is stuffed and overflowing right now. My kitty cat loves to explore in there, but he gets lost and often causes stacks of stuff to slide with him riding the avalanche down to the floor. I have been meaning to clean out the closet for some time and just never seem to get to it.
Living in a small house means I have to try to be diligent in not accumulating too much stuff. I do that; accumulate stuff. I won’t call it treasure because a lot of it really is just stuff. I checked the Bible once, and it does encourage us to store up treasures. I didn’t find the words “office closet” in any of those verses; they all reference storing up treasures in heaven.
So, when the junk begins to overflow in my house I begin to go through and, as my mom always said, rid out. Ridding out isn’t easy. I, like many people, become attached to my stuff. I think, “I may need this someday, it could be important, as soon as I throw it out I will miss it.” Truth is that rarely ever happens. Once I get rid of stuff I forget about it. And life flows along smoothly until the next time my possessions threaten to take over. Then I start all over again. I hope that someday I learn enough to not accumulate, then I won’t have rid out.
As I drove today and thought about this I couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that my physical possessions aren’t the only things I store up. There are those non-tangible things that get stuffed away in the nooks and crannies of my heart, those things that God doesn’t want in heaven either. They definitely aren’t paving stones in heaven, rather stumbling stones here on earth.
Ridding out the closets of my life always gets me to thinking about the closets of my soul. There is a song called “Open Me Up” by Watermark, a Christian husband and wife duo, Nathan and Christy Nockels. In the song they sing asking the Lord to “come clean the shadows and closets of my soul.” My heart and soul needs that good cleaning on a regular basis.
I find it’s not any easier to rid out my soul than it is to rid out my closets. I cling tightly to things that have no purpose or value to me anymore, some never did. It’s easy as I store up those thoughts to think they serve some purpose and to believe I will need them some day, they might be important, as soon I as rid myself of it I will need it. Truth is I don’t and I am better off letting them go.
People talk of spring cleaning. My big cleaning tends to come in the fall. Since the weather will soon begin cooling down and the leaves will begin to change I am thinking of cleaning. It definitely is time for closet cleaning and soul cleaning.