As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished several hours of straightening, cleaning, and shoveling here in my home office. Part of that time was spent doing some much needed housekeeping on my computer, where I found my hard drive running low on space because of dozens of program demos that I downloaded, installed, looked at, and forgot to delete. Then there was my actual office space, which resembled my hard drive, but not nearly was well organized. By nature, I’m a “piler.” I tend to store things in a “vertical piling system” that works out reasonably well for me, as long as nobody rearranges the piles, and they don’t fall over too often. From time to time, a piler’s environment has to be shoveled out. It’s how we do things. Not only does it make way for new piles of new stuff, it can provide some fascinating remembrances – and you never know when you’ll find something important that got buried under a pile and overlooked.
I’ve known a few neat-freaks over the years that have insisted on trying to “reform” me and turn me into a “neat office” kind of guy. I’ve outlasted most of them, and the rest have learned to look the other way and accept me as I am. Whenever they attempt to start another uprising, I quote Proverbs 14:4, which says: “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much increase (revenue) comes by the strength of the ox.” There is, of course, a practical observation behind that application of scripture. Over the years, when I’ve found myself working though various cycles of “downsizing”, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to see more than one person join the ranks of the unemployed. I’ve even been there myself. As I’ve observed those cycles in motion, I can’t help but notice that the people who are the first to go are usually the ones with the neat, clean desks. Apparently, they have too much free time on their hands.
Of course, the stall of even the profitable ox needs to be shoveled out from time to time. It’s a healthy thing to take time to “clean out your stall.” The very same truth applies to our spiritual lives, as well. It’s important to take an occasional “time out” to re-evaluate what we’re doing with our time, energy, and other resources. Sometimes, we find that our messy stall desperately needs a good shoveling. Other times, we may find such a clean stall that we wonder where the oxen are. Neither extreme is particularly healthy. The best balance comes when we clean out the stall every day, identifying those areas where we aren’t where God wants us to be, and correcting our course as needed.
Have you taken a spiritual inventory of your life lately? Any messy corners that need to be shoveled out? I’ve found a few, and it’s remarkable how fast they can grow and get out of hand when ignored. I’ve learned the very real fact that no matter what I do, I can’t hide my heart from God. He sees what is really going on inside, whether I want to admit it to Him or not. Life is a lot easier when I admit to my shortfall, and let Jesus help me clean out my stall.