Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Removing Rubbish

           The path from the front door of my great uncle’s house was lined with piles of newspapers, stacks of paperwork, trinkets, and things from the past. The little trail, only two feet wide at best, made its way through each room.  As a child I could not see over the things around me, only knowing the rooms’ intended functions by the furniture sprinkled along the way.  A couch hiding behind this turn, a glimpse of a bathtub at the end of a pathway, a dresser peeking out from behind a pile of clothes and other odds and ends were my view as I carefully walked towards the kitchen.  There I met one of the most interesting people I would ever encounter, surrounded by what appeared to be rubbish.
            His life’s work filled that house if only you could find it.  Up until this point in my life I had never met someone more focused or successful, yet cluttered.  That day my great uncle showed me some of his works: cartoons he had drawn for Walt Disney, famous papers, and advertisements.  He slowly winded around his house path picking up memorabilia that sparked some of the most delightful tales.  He knew where items were among the clutter - I came to learn he frequently shared these stories with those who came to visit him.    His life had been an amazing journey, but somewhere along the way he traded in producing for piling.  The management of the piles became his priority. 
            Project management is important, but it can stifle progress.  Moving forward means that we must balance staying productive in the midst of organization.  There is so much to be said for managing our lives, but if the management becomes all of the work we are doing then it is time to throw out some of the work.  If all we find ourselves doing is going from place to place or thing to thing we need to take sometime to reevaluate if we are moving forward.  Because if we do not it will be no time at all before we are walking around a house managing piles our own work, with no time for God to give us new projects to fulfill. 
            Recently, God reminded me of this important principle of removing rubbish so that our work can progress.  I had taken on many projects for an extended period of time.   When I came to do my twice a year project priority self evaluation, a discipline I began years ago where I dedicate a week or two to seeking God about what I should and should not be doing project wise, I was led to a story in the Bible. 
            In the book of Nehemiah when God’s people began to build back the walls of Jerusalem they met with some fierce opposition – outside and inside.  Outside of their land naysayers came towards them with words and later with weapons to stop the plans God had for them to fulfill.  These determined people had “a mind to work”, but beyond their enemies outside, inside there was a weakness that was stifling their progress. 

“Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”
(Neh. 4:10 NKJV)

Rubbish – useless waste or rejected matter; unimportant, no longer useful
(Miriam-Webster.com 2016)

            Most likely the things that surround us now were at some point in time important, but in order to move forward we must not simply pile new things on the old, we must remove the rubbish.  Deciding what to hold onto and what to throw out is a very personal decision; one that God can and will help us determine.  One of the great things about God is that He helps us remove and remain at the same time, all the while protecting us.   

“And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.  So it was from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.”
(Neh. 4:15-16 NKJV)

            As we remove rubbish, de-cluttering the unimportant things in our lives, God remains faithful to help us finish the work that He has for us.  Our work is more than the accumulation of piles of accomplishments and or acquired debris.  Our work must be progressive, because when it is completed others are able to build upon it.  Judah balanced the management of rubbish removal while remaining focused on the work.  As “A Work in Progress” we too must remove rubbish so we can get from where we are to where God knows that we can be!

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