In an unprecedented move a few weeks ago, I cleaned my office. This wasn’t just a simple shuffling of papers on the desk or alphabetizing of my books. It was a total reordering of my life at work. Shelves were relocated, useless stuff was purged and décor was finally placed where it should be.
The results have been impressive, and the new look has received many compliments. However, it has brought on a second unprecedented activity: maintaining the cleanliness.
Daily pressures produce daily paperwork. Paperwork produces piles and piles produce clutter. By the end of my day, I have items from multiple projects strewn about the desk and floor, paying homage to the principle that messiness demonstrates that I’m earning my paycheck.
In previous times, that clutter would remain and build until I couldn’t take it anymore. Now, though, I’m taking an extra two minutes each night to straighten up. The habit is hard to develop — I’m fighting years of practiced neglect — but the results are enjoyable. Every morning I come in to a clean slate and the knowledge that everything is in its place.
It reminds me of the spiritual battle we all face. Our hearts have been cleansed by Jesus, and yet it is amazingly easy to allow the cares and concerns of life to start to take over. A pile of worry here, a smattering of stress there. Soon, our focus turns to the mundane and urgent rather than the divine and important. Like the seed choked by thorns in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9), we allow the worries of this age to take over.
Maintaining a clean office isn’t much different than maintaining a clean heart. We must constantly make efforts to eliminate anything that distracts us from God. Rather than waiting for things to build up, cleanse daily through prayer, study and time with God. Prioritize the activities that are important to him. Choose to love the unlovable. These actions, if applied daily, will keep things running smoothly.
— Howell oversees the adult education ministry at Tonganoxie Christian Church.