Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tackling the Mess with Faith

Today, I have to admit that I am suffering from an acute case of mental clutter that has lapsed over into real life. I look around and see a whole bunch of unfinished projects and half-run errands, like that craft project I bought the stuff for but didn't make, or things I didn't quite put back in their places because I would have to move too much furniture to do it.

I'm talking about it today because I think this is a common problem, and that it is often a testament to a kind of underlying fear (the type and origin of the fear depends on the situation).  Now, those who know God don't have to be afraid, because He's given us freedom from fear, but I can personally testify that once we've gotten into the habit, it is very difficult to stop.

Some people call fear a sin, condemning it as doubt of God, but I think it's really doubt of the physical world, such as doubt of our own strength. That doubt is something God can use to build our faith, if we let Him, or it can be a doubt that cripples us.

 I'm speaking of myself, too, as you recall.

Sometimes clutter, including mental clutter, comes from a deep need to avoid further trauma, but God is bigger than that trauma, and can use the situation to prove to us again that He can heal us, and that He is with us as we deal with the situation.  Sometimes clutter comes when we feel we need to prove ourselves, so we hyper-focus on that one aspect of our lives, letting the clutter build up elsewhere. In this case, God can build our faith by showing us how He gives us value and sustains us, and how He is worthy of our trust. God can make our efforts meaningful and adequate, even when we feel we haven't done enough, and He can stay on the job, taking care of the situation when we need to go do something else.

Sometimes fear-induced clutter has a different origin, which I might not have described, but I can say that whatever it is, God can meet that need. He can deal with the problem. We just have to have that tiny bit of faith that opens the door for Him to work on it with us. This is something God has been teaching me lately.

I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews that defines faith as a belief built on proof of God's power, which gives substance to the things we can't see yet. It says in the NIV, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see," (Hebrews 11: 1).  This verse sort of describes that middle time we are now living, between the thing God did that first gave us confidence in Him, and the thing God is going to do next, which will reassure us of that confidence.  The verse also points out that faith is generalizable; that is, it may have started when God proved His power in one situation, but it looks forward to a point when God will deal with something that came up later. In other words, faith believes that the same God who fixed us long ago can fix us today, and tomorrow, too, no matter what comes up.

So, wrapping this up, how can we deal with the fear-induced clutter of the mental and physical variety?  A lot of people say, "Just face it. Just start the process of cleaning up." Maybe that's all it is going to take for some people, but if fear is too crippling to allow us to "just start," I would say that we have to start by renewing our faith.  We need to remember God's strength, goodness, healing, or whatever answer He holds for our present need.  If we're going to face our fear, we need our confidence back, and that confidence is found in the unseen, but very real, power of God. Then, we can tackle the mess.

Are you dealing with fear-induced clutter today?  Here are some questions for reflection.
  1.  Sometimes clutter is the physical sort, like dirty laundry or junk mail. Sometimes it's mental, like social media and television, which can keep us from dealing with pressing issues in our lives.  What kind(s) of clutter do you feel you are dealing with today?  Is fear involved in the situation?
  2. In Psalm 77, David looked to the past to refresh his faith. What has God done for you in the past that inspired faith in Him? What was He teaching you about Himself in those circumstances?
  3. How can God's actions in the past give us confidence in our present circumstances?
  4. As we begin to tackle the clutter in our lives, what can we do to keep our confidence--our faith--strong throughout the week?