The Clean Garage That Was
I’ve spent hours of my life cleaning my family’s garage. Every time, I hold on to the same hope. Every time, I’m confident that it will be different than last time.
And every time, the garage goes from orderly to disastrous in less than a month.
It’s doubly pitiful: first, because my family has not been gifted with the ability to keep a clean garage, and second, because I get my hopes up so high every time.
Does that mean I won’t ever clean the garage again? Probably not. Is there any way to guarantee its cleanliness for more than a month? Again, probably not.
But I’m not really thinking about my garage right now. My garage doesn’t keep me up at night. I don’t write in my journal about dirty laundry. The camping chairs don’t call for most of my prayer life.
But change does.
Boxes Won’t Balance Themselves
I felt like I’d built a pretty consistent routine for my life over the last year. In April, the way that I spent my time was just starting to make sense to me. But here we are in September, and the boxes that I’ve stacked are tilting over. I have to Tarzan my way around them to grab the extra rice cooker, but they’re going to fall eventually. It’s inevitable.
I started dating in May. I started working 8 more hours a week in July. My sister flew to another state this week, and she’ll be gone for six months.
While those are all really good things, they make someone like me a little bit anxious. It’s hard when life doesn’t feel the same or make as much sense as it used to. I like to be in control. I like a clean house. But with less time during the week (and more responsibilities in general), I don’t feel like I’m in control.
It feels like the boxes in my garage are falling over.
To Feel In Control
I can only speak from my own experience, but it seems like we are all fundamentally in the exact same place. We can spend as many hours as we want cleaning that garage, but our own needs and the needs of others will always make it dirty again.
All of us want to feel in control, and none of us are.
Can you relate? Doesn’t your stomach twist into knots when someone alters your plan for the day? Doesn’t your expression change when someone that you weren’t expecting walks into the room? Don’t you ever go to bed angry because you didn’t accomplish as much during the day as you needed to? Do the schedule you didn’t ask for and the responsibilities you didn’t prepare for leave you tired all the time?
I tell people that my greatest pet peeve in life is when I’m in an office chair and someone else spins the chair with their hand on the backrest. I know, I know; it’s ridiculously petty. But it’s one more thing that reminds me that I’m not in charge of my life. Every day, I’m faced with the reality that change, the uncertainty of the future, and my own weaknesses are going to defeat me if I fight them on my own.
I already know the answer to all of this wrestling, but I’m prideful, and to trust God with the change in my life requires a measure of humility that I just don’t have. I’m counting on Him to give it to me.
Our Father Who Art In Heaven
The start of our answer is in these words. This is not an American prayer that exists to serve our social impulse to pray before meals. I’m begging you to look at it and to try believing it with me. The Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ very heartbeat, and it must be ours as well.
God is your Father. God defines Fatherhood so differently from how we experience it. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. In fact, He does quite the opposite. Jesus depicts His Father abandoning what’s expected of Him so that He might run toward those who come to Him. In Isaiah, it’s said that He turns away from anger in order to comfort us. When compared to our earthly fathers, God is described like this: “If you then, [fathers] who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
For every difficulty you want to talk about and every fear that you can’t face alone, He listens to you and fights for you. He never leaves you nor forsakes you.
God is in Heaven. All of the love and kindness of our God is perfectly balanced with all the power and authority in the universe. His Word will outlast every politician and ruler from every nation on the planet. He has overcome the world. No one can stop His hand or question Him in any way. Before anything else He existed, He existed. He did not call upon any outside power to help shape the universe. No one pressured Him into saving you. “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”
I can’t overlook the fact that the decisions that I make are important and necessary. But God alone is ultimately in control.
And if the Soul in charge of the universe is fundamentally good, incomparably patient, infinitely wise, and completely sovereign,
we have nothing to fear.
Put your life and your hope and your schedule on Him, and He will prove Himself faithful.
Little Things Help
When life gets out of hand and overwhelming, our problem is two-fold: we forget the things that are unchanging and we forget the good things about change.
I’ve found something practical in the last few months; maybe you can run with the idea?
For all of the newness in this season of life, some things haven’t changed. I still say goodnight to everyone in the house before I go to bed. I still write about my week in my journal on Sunday nights. I still run on Tuesday nights (I try to, at least). I’ve made this blog a monthly priority, and I keep my side of the closet clean: jackets on the left, dress pants in the middle, and dress shirts on the right. There are people in life that help me process the things that happen to me. God is always glad to spend time with me, whether or not I want to spend time with Him.
I know that some of these things are small and unimportant, but I’m really thankful for each of them, simply because they help my world make sense. When life changes, start by trusting a faithful and unchanging God. Then, find smaller things that don’t change and let them give you the comfort to endure the change well.
And once you have that comfort, choose to be thankful for how exciting the changes in life can be. My job is an incredible blessing. My girlfriend is more caring, more godly, and more fun to be around than I ever expected. My sister is going to have an amazing trip. Maybe the wonder and joy of life as it is makes the difficulty of change worth it.