Month: October 2015

There’s a Junk Monster Lurking in the Hallway Closet

Blog_ClosetDoorYou think the house is finally clean. The counters are clear, the table empty—the floor no longer a series of land mines. Even the kids pitch in, making a good show of putting their stuff away. It’s all good until you open the closet.

Little do you know there’s a junk monster lurking in that hidden place, poised to attack the first victim to open the door. Just when you think it’s all clear—BAM! He strikes without mercy and you’re overcome with a barrage of stuff you thought was history.

It happened to me recently, though not in the literal sense. Insensitive words from an old friend ushered in a flood of unwelcome emotion. Things I’d forgotten, forgiven, and left behind resurfaced with the touch of one trigger. Ouch. Words can hurt, peeling scabs off old wounds. Winter rears it’s ugly head in the midst of your blissful spring.

Encounters like this can either force us back into hibernation, or shift us into deep-cleaning mode. Too often I choose the former, when the latter will bring lasting change. Hibernation is comfortable, but we can’t stay there. A change in seasons forces us to examine our hearts. What’s lurking in there? What hidden things are suffocating life and joy? It’s time to let go that lasting change may take root in our lives.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)


Blog_SkeletonSeen a lot of skeletons lately? I have. They seem to be everywhere these days—lying in garden beds, hanging from trees, lining the clearance aisles at the store. And while these skeletons are mere plastic replicas of the real thing, they serve as a reminder. Not just to buy tons of candy to pass out to costumed kids over the weekend. No, they are a reminder of something much more sobering.

Beneath our fashionable clothes and beyond our fading flesh, a skeleton is what holds us together. And when we’re gone, that skeleton is all that will be left of our bodies.

During a trip to a third world country, I walked through an impoverished graveyard where skeletons lined the pathways. My face-to-face encounter with those empty eye sockets and fleshless bones awakened me to the reality of my own mortality. I won’t be here long, no matter how slowly time seems to pass.

It’s easy to get sucked in to the monotonous routine of everyday life, forgetting how fleeting it all is. It’s tempting to invest time and resources on the needs and desires of my flesh, neglecting to consider it’s just a temporary house. How many hours have I spent worrying about how I look or how others perceive my external appearance, when this flesh is destined for the grave?

We are more, so much more. And life is more, so much more. When I stare at the skeletons in the neighborhood yards, I’m reminded again and again. I don’t want to live for short-lived gratification. I want my life to count for something that won’t rot in a casket with my bones.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

Buried Alive

Blog_BuriedAliveI don’t want to be buried alive. And I would guess if a survey were taken on the ways people least want to die, being buried alive would top the charts. Yet quietly, imperceptibly, it’s happening. Here. Now. In our own homes. Each day, we are suffocating unaware.

Who is the evil perpetrator seeking to steal our lives?

If a crime scene investigation series were devoted to finding the villain behind the madness, it would take the slyest of sleuths to crack the case—because the antagonist is among the least noticed and most unsuspected, and so much the object of our affections that we would never believe it a silent killer.

Are you in suspense wondering who the evil nemesis could be? Let me ease your curiosity. It’s…our stuff.

That’s right. Our stuff. Stop and think back to the moment you first noticed your lifeblood draining, your strength failing. It may have been in the midst of that endless succession of phone calls to customer service trying to resolve an issue with that “thing” once so needed. It may have been the last time you attempted to organize your basement or garage into some semblance of sanity. Or maybe it was when you walked by your teen’s bedroom and found them them swallowed alive by electronic gadgets as the slow-dawning realization came upon you…that a significant chunk of your labor was spent to pay for those gadgets now stealing your child away.

Yes, we need things for daily life, but when those things start to devour our life, it gets dangerous. Our precious time is spent working for, purchasing, cleaning, maintaining, refurbishing, storing, organizing, and getting rid of…things. We work extra hours, spend time away from family, all so we can have stuff we think we need, only to realize this stuff has robbed us of what we need even more.

I don’t want to come to the end of my life and regret that my time was spent on things that gather dust. I don’t want to waste my breath on things that rot, or my labor on that which can be burned in the fire. There is an allure to the temporary: it comes cloaked in light only to steal our lives. God, help us…that we do not fall victim.

“There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (MSG)

Beyond the Public Eye

Blog_EmptyStageThere was a time when it was okay to be unknown. People sang in the shower without aspiring to idol status. Gifted writers were content when their words served to encourage their friends and loved ones. Iron chefs cooked for the love of food and family.

Now everything’s a competition. A good voice isn’t enough unless it’s discovered. The written word seems worthless if not hailed by the masses. There’s even cooking shows that turn the kitchen into a stage and the well-cooked meal into a shot at stardom.

What drives us to push our talents and abilities into the public eye? Why are we so discontent with obscurity?

Maybe we’re longing for significance—believing it can only be found in worldwide recognition. If the world knows we’re gifted, we’re assured of our existence. We feel validated only when acknowledged by others. Add impatience to the mix. We want immediate gratification from our efforts—likes and shares, comments and accolades.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most enduring works of art were created in obscurity. Many now-famous writers, artists, and composers weren’t recognized for their work until they passed on from this life. Would we of this fame-famished generation be content to know our greatest works will benefit those powerless to build our present-day ego?

I’d rather have my work outlive me for the benefit of a generation I’ll never see than for it merely to endure a short-lived hype. Serving in obscurity ensures sincerity. If I’m using my talent only for immediate recognition, hypocrisy is likely to steal the stage—my works governed by the feeble and fleeting opinions of man. It’s better to flourish in obscurity than to waste away in the toxic waters of fame.