In my repeated reading of 1 Peter this past month, it seems the Lord has been bringing this verse to mind:
For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:10-12 (quoting from Psalm 34)
The words that keep ringing in my mind are "Seek peace and pursue it." Over and over. "Seek peace and pursue it." And you know what? I think that's what I've been doing.
First, you've got to seek peace. Look for it. Prayerfully ask God where it will be found. In setting a certain relationship in order? In becoming obedient in a certain area? In giving Him an area of fear? In my case, I decided that one of the places peace could be found for me was in an orderly home, which I admittedly hadn't had in quite some time. I used to be a nut about keeping my house perfect. When the kids were very small, I was so into my house that it became an area of bondage for me. Over the years, with God's help, I began to relax my standards. Then, my flesh took over and in recent years, my increasingly relaxed standards coincided with our increasingly busy schedule, and chaos began to take root. In my junk drawers. In my master closet. In the garage. Ack! I was in bondage to the house again, but not because it was too neat, but because it was too messy! Oh, it looked fine if you came over, but I knew that lurking behind cabinet and closet doors, and on the other side of the garage, there It was. Disorder. And the mess wasn't just contained in closets and drawers, but it began to invade my thinking as well. My mind became just as cluttered. And, I have to admit that I felt no energy or enthusiasm to do anything about it! I would clean a cabinet and wait for the "cleaning fever" to hit like it used to, and it didn't. I would take a vitamin. Drink some coffee. Pray. (Not necessarily in that order!) And still, the cleaning bug didn't bite. I wanted it clean, but didn't want to put everything aside in order to do it. The kids wanted to go to the pool, we were invited to go out of town, there was a conference, we had mission trips... there was always something!
Well, in recent weeks, I decided to do the second half of that sentence: "Pursue it." I knew peace could be found in order, but I had to pursue it. I began to see that cleaning a kitchen cabinet here, a pantry there, a laundry room shelf here and a bookshelf there were starting to help clear my mind and energize me. As I posted last week, I tackled my son's room, and as I mentioned in my post, my master closet was next. Boy, was it ever! I emptied that thing all over my room, up and down our hallway, and into our dining room. Stuff. Everywhere.
I became the "clothes bouncer," deciding which clothes could come back in. "You, but not you... you but not you." I interviewed my clothes, asking pointed questions like:
"Who was president when you were purchased?"
"When was the last time you were worn outside of this closet?"
"Does the number on your tag accurately represent my current size?"
"Does wearing you look like a cry for help?"
You know. Those tough questions that some of the clothes in our closets don't want to answer!
Sadly, not everyone qualified to come back in. Not all of our "stuff" was qualified to come back in, either. Some memorabilia, I found, wasn't worth taking a walk down memory lane with anymore. There were some things I thought I would want around, that suddenly I didn't want as much as I wanted peace. So, out they went. For two days I worked. Now, it's beautiful. It's organized. It smells like Cucumber Melon air freshener. Aaaahhh.
Yesterday we tackled the garage. My school shelves are where I can get to them, you can walk through it without wearing protective clothing. It's a work in progress, but it's measurable progress!
And do you know what I found this week? Peace!! Apparently it was stuffed in my master closet, garage, and under my son's trundle bed all along! Flattened under piles of stuff and weighed down by clutter, fragments of peace were cloistered away, just waiting to be found. I've got a pile of junk ready to go out with the trash in the morning, and a mountain of wonderful treasures ready to be picked up for donation on Tuesday. And I'm walking around clutching my prized posession, my greatest find in all of that mess... my peace!
I know that the ultimate goal should not be neatness for neatness' sake, but godliness and holiness. But I found that, for me, the disorder in my home did not reflect God's character, for He is a God of order, not chaos. I've still got some other areas where God has shown me I'm to pursue peace... a couple of relationships and some habits I need to work on, but the peace I've found in recent days by restoring order in my home will certainly accompany me into those areas as well. Sort of like a "peace snowball" I guess. It's getting bigger!
Where is your peace? I would encourage you to, with God's help, decide where it will be found, to seek it. Then, with His energy... pursue it! It's worth it!