When Alyson and I moved into our house a couple of years ago, we were thrilled with the fact that it had a really nice shed in the back of the property. OK, I was thrilled with the shed. It was big enough to hold all of my tools, the lawnmower, and still have room for a nice workbench. I had visions of all sorts of projects taking place in that space. Right from the start, however, it became the place we put things when those things had no place else to go. Two years in, I not only couldn’t access the workbench, I couldn’t even access most of the stuff stored in the shed. Just trying to retrieve something I needed from the back of the building pushed me over the edge. What good is a shed full of stuff if you can’t get to any of it?
Many of our calendars look a lot like my shed. They filled to the brim with activities, tasks, and responsibilities. There’s baseball, dance, civic boards, PTO meetings, that volunteer opportunity down at the church. God is in there somewhere, too, but who has the time or energy to find him? By saying “Yes” to too many things, we end up exceeding the limits of our humanity. By committing to more things than we have the time, energy, or ability for, we reducing our capacity to enjoy any one thing to the full. We get frustrated with the stress and fatigue and angry at the fact that our lives are not as we think they should be.
What is the remedy? We have to say “No” far more often than we do in order to create the space necessary to embrace a few key opportunities in our life. Like my shed, our lives can only hold so much. Like my shed, we can cram every available space with something, even something good, but when we do, we actually impede our ability to live our lives as God intended them to be lived. We are to have both activity and inactivity in our lives. These moments of inactivity give us the room necessary to think, reflect, rest, and recuperate. All necessary tasks in this life of work, worship, and play.
It took Alyson and me an entire day to clean out the shed. We ended up giving or throwing away 75% of what was in there. Now, there is plenty of empty space in the building. There’s even room to dance a little jig, which I may or may not have done when we finished. If I did dance a little, it was because I realized how much less stressed I was in that space. I also understood, this reduction of things actually increased the chance that I’d be able to enjoy the things that remain like that workbench. If creating space in my storage shed can bring this much joy, just think what it could do for the more important spaces in our lives.
What is something you might need to give up in order to better enjoy the things that remain? What might you need to say “No” to in order to say “Yes” to the Lord?
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” - Psalm 16:2