As a child and into my teen years, I was an avid collector of...mostly junk. I went through different phases where I collected coins, stamps, Berenstain Bear Books, Lisa Frank stationery sets, playing cards, and oddest of all...state souvenir spoons. You know, those awkwardly small spoons with the scroll designs engraved into them and an icon to represent one of the states. You can bet I wasn't eating my morning cereal with these babies. Nope, they mostly stayed in the box and collected dust. You can stop laughing now, years ago state spoons were coveted souvenirs...within the senior citizen community anyway. Okay, I guess you have permission to laugh.
Want to know which items in my collection were the ones that I enjoyed the most? You guessed it, the items that I actually took out of the box and USED!
Within the last few months, I got back together with an old "acquaintance" of mine that I've had a love-hate relationship with off and on for years, jogging. Jogging and I haven't always gotten along. I hated the personal assessment running tests I had to do in high school, but gave it a go again in my adult years. I came to both love and hate it, but I could feel every cell in my being wanting to love it; Except my right knee. My right knee and jogging were mortal enemies. Thankfully at this point in my life they have learned to be in the same room without trying to kill each other.
One buffer between my knee and running came in the form of expensive running shoes. If you know me well, then you know me to be fairly cheap, so I cringe to tell you how much they cost...$100.00 on sale! Maybe to you that's no big deal, but it was hard for me to fork over the cash for something that needs to be replaced every 400-500 miles. Being the cheapskate that I am, I googled how to care for running shoes. I knew if I wasn't careful that I could become obsessive. In the beginning, I refused to leave them in my car - and honestly I still try not to (The internet guru told me that cold and hot can ruin the shoe's adhesives). I purchased the shoes on a Thursday, and a group run was scheduled for the following, rainy, Saturday morning. Since I hadn't rejoined a gym by that point, I wasn't able to test the shoes out on a safe, dry surface as much as I wanted to. I almost skipped the group run that day because I was afraid of ruining my new shoes. Can you imagine, running shoes that I was afraid of running in?!? I nearly turned my running shoes into a collection that didn't get any use.
Do we "collect" things in our spiritual lives? I know I'm guilty of this. I have a multitude of Bibles: a study Bible, a new journaling Bible, and the Bible app on my phone; but how often do I really read and absorb the scriptures? 2 Timothy 3:16 says "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (ESV)" Sometimes I think we tend to believe a distorted version of 2 Timothy 3:16 that goes something like this: "All scripture must be printed on beautiful paper, leather bound, engraved in gold, sitting on a shelf artfully arranged next to a vase of flowers following the guidelines of Feng Shui"
When does a collection become less about collecting, and more like clutter? I often come across the quote (pictured on the left) by Willam Morris on Pinterest. I find it to be a simple concept that still manages to inspire and challenge me not to let my living areas get too cluttered.
The same can apply in our spiritual lives. We may may be collecting beautiful, life-giving things, that aren't getting used. Or, we may be holding onto "clutter" that slowly can overwhelm and eventually cripple us from joyful living. (I'm picturing every episode of Hoarders I have ever seen right about now). What are you holding onto? Bitterness? The need to control? Fear? Fear is usually a big one for me, that and the constant need to compare myself with others. I clutter my life with fear, comparison, etc., leave my Bible looking pretty on the shelf, and expect to have room to collect and manifest beauty in my life?
We tend to discard the useful, and hold onto the trash with an iron fist. Whether you are collecting something good that's not getting put to good use, or piling up clutter in your life, the good news is that God is always good! He never turns us away because we haven't come to Him as often as we should. He is waiting with open arms to accept His call to be our Papa, our Abba Father, all over again; or maybe for the first time. Jesus will take our ashes, and give us beauty instead. Accept His beauty in your life. Embrace it. Wear it like a treasured piece of jewelry. Your story isn't over, it's just beginning. And your life is a beautiful masterpiece to the Father.