All of us love to decorate our houses before Christmas. Some go all out, removing everyday dishes and substituting holiday-patterned ones or putting the regular linens in the basement in favor of red and green decor. Glasses, wall hangings, figurines, you name it; decorated items come in all categories. As the old Swede sang, “Oh I ‘yust go nuts at Christmas!”
Many people struggle to keep Christ the central subject of the season, and all of us can be tempted to go to decorating extremes. When our family lived in Illinois, I used to make elaborate 3” ribbon bows for every curtain hanging in front of every window (two each, since curtains have left and right sides) and load every outdoor bush with lights. And that was only the beginning. My decorating dominated a week’s agenda, and in January it needed another week to be dismantled.
Today I’ve re-listened to my Christmas CDs in one last burst of seasonal celebrating before I put them back in their basement bin. I never get enough of the music and thought each record deserved one last play. Eleven months without them is a long, long time. As the carols played and the red/green decor began to disappear, my ordinary color scheme re-emerged. And it looked pretty good, like a family member coming home. Coupling the switch-back with a little Windex made the house sparkle in a way different than all the holiday glitz and glitter, more like a freshly-balanced new beginning than an ending.
It’s not a bad idea to focus on tidying up the bits and pieces of our lives every so often, holidays or no. This is especially important in the spiritual realm. Just as decorations begin to seem like clutter when January comes, so our once-good ideas about God and Scripture can clutter up our thinking.
Every so often I ought to ask myself, “Is my relationship with the Lord the same as last year? Are the two of us closer this year? Or farther apart? How am I doing on Bible reading? Am I stuck relying on what I learned last year or even before that? How’s my prayer life? Is God answering my requests? Am I battling the same sins in the same way as last year without improved results?
Our self-exam questions will serve to point out needless clutter, and if we answer them honestly and then take action, the result will be a spiritually de-cluttered life whose “decorating scheme” looks pretty good to us.
And more importantly, it’ll look good to the Lord, too.
“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me…” (Psalm 139:23-24)