I’m taking a poll here. Does anyone else organize by first throwing everything in a pile and sorting their way out? A lifetime ago, when I was a stay at home mom, I stumbled onto that technique and it has never left. Worse before better. One day in an organizing frenzy I was up to my armpits in seemingly generations of clutter when a friend came to the door. Panic! This friend kept an immaculate house, my mother’s version of immaculate, and I couldn’t let her in. In fact, I quietly scurried through the mess and hid far from sight until she drove away. It seems like the arduous task of sorting and organizing begins at worse, before it gets better. I’ve revisited that scene many times in my mind and this morning I recalled it again.
These past months of unstructured planning have destroyed any hope for even a few symbiotic tasks to be completed on schedule. In fact, there is no schedule – no due date, no prioritization of work, no interactions with team members, no adverse effects if I don’t meet expectations. No schedule, no expectations, and up to my armpits in out-of-control clutter. Our pastor, Frank Snyder, taught something that refutes the idea that there are no expectations. Even when we have no regimented schedule with specific demands and stated requirements, we have opportunity for success. Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Don’t get sidetracked…Watch out! This will get worse before it gets better. Sorting, examining, and prioritizing through the clutter is an grueling task – but there’s a promise of honorable results.
Maybe that doesn’t resonate with you, but here’s what it means to me. Last week, yes, it’s been 5 days since I first realized that God was dealing with me in this new non-working period in my life. He impressed on my heart that all my good intentions are like our weather in Michigan. They go from cold to tepid, from slightly blustery to blizzard, from joy of potential to despair of lost opportunity. I’ve been reading The Story and how the best practices of each king impacted a whole nation. Most of those best practices were selfish, ungodly, and unwise leading to bondage and destruction. But then there were kings like Hezekiah. At the description of him, I stopped and thought, this is what I want to be confirmed in my life. 2 Chronicles 31:20-21 Hezekiah did what the Lord his God considered good and right and faithful. He wholeheartedly and successfully reinstituted service in God’s temple and obedience to the law, in order to follow his God.” Here was motivation to organize my thoughts, organize my priorities, and organize the clutter that’s evidence of an undisciplined, unstructured pattern.
I went to every room in my house, gathering the remnants of projects, scattered notes, and half read printouts, things I started but didn’t finish and dumped them on the floor in my home office. Worse before better. A glance at the rubble on the floor was like opening a book on my life. In that moment, God gave me insight into why focus is so difficult, planning is abstract, and it’s a struggle to reach Finished!’
In reading Proverbs 2:1-5 in the Message translation renewed my hope in pleasing God with my plans when they are based on His purpose. “Good friend, take to heart my counsel and what I’m telling you… listen to Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. Make Insight your priority, don’t take no for an answer, search for it like it’s treasured gold. Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.” Insight, wisdom, understanding are better.With God looking over my shoulder, you’ll find me sorting through the clutter, asking for insight to establish a schedule, set priorities, and be successful. I again thought of this when I got to Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
Insight – Success – God’s stamp of approval on our path from worse to better.