There are times in my life when I feel the need to pull out, tear down, and throw away. But there are also times that I resist these healthy urges.
I find it easy to send useless things that just create clutter and gathers dust out the door! But I tend to harbor things in my heart and soul, that in the long run, only do harm. And which actually keep me from entering into times of rest and peace.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 3, wisely reminds us that there is a time to plant – and to pluck up what’s planted. A time to build up – and to break down. A time to gather – and to cast away. To embrace – and to refrain from embracing. To seek – and to lose.
And a time to keep – and a time to cast away.
But this pulling out and tearing down takes determination and courage. A courage we don’t always have. Most of us cling to things, even if unaware of doing so. And things are not bad. Until they hinder us from entering fully into God’s perfect rest.
For we sometimes even cling to troublesome things. Even knowing they do us no good.
- Bad habits — procrastination, eating junk food, overeating, lack of exercise.
- Unproductive activities — Facebook, Twitter, games, television, or routines we mindlessly follow.
- Toxic relationships — people who try to control us, use us, belittle us, or make us too dependent.
- Expectations — that we place on circumstances, happenings, or people.
And we keep on struggling. Wondering why our lives are so unrestful. Why at times it seems we barely keep our head above water. For we prefer Solomon’s words about getting. We like to gather, embrace, and keep. And find it hard to break down, cast away, and lose.
For we have a deep passion to possess and own.
There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets `things’ with a deep and fierce passion, (AW Tozer).
No where have we seen this passion to possess more than at the refugee camps we visit. Those men and women grab hold of stuff as the starving do food. Even mere scraps of cloth become cherished possessions. Understandable, yes. Totally. When you have nothing, everything becomes dear.
But they even grab at the literature we take. It makes no difference that they can’t read. Those books or tracts become a possession to keep, to hold. Something about which they can say, “This is Mine.”
But there is a season for everything.
We cannot embrace without also letting go. We cannot gather without also casting away. And when we cling to harmful things, God’s perfect rest finds no resting place in our lives. Because we crowd it out.
We know this because he shows us through his Word. Through his sweet and gentle whisper. And through others who try to point the way. But still we cling, even to harmful things that hinder our walk.
And that’s why the Lord sometimes allows seemingly negative circumstances in our lives.
These are really a time of pulling, chopping, and rooting out. Seemingly harsh times that chop out all the chaff, dirt, and impurities. And it’s a painful process. Because the hoe must dig deep to uproot the harmful things, which for lack of courage or understanding, we let grow too long. And he does this because he wants us to enter his rest.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, (Matthew 11:28-30).
“Come,” the Lord calls. “I’ll give you rest. Why do you choose to cling to your heavy burdens instead?” The Lord wants to give us rest in this chaotic world. And that is worth clinging to! And worth sharing with others. But he’s waiting for us to clear a little planting space.
Tearing out may take courage, but isn’t the peace it brings a lot better than the chaos we often insist on clinging to?