Saturday, March 19, 2016

It will get better, but first...

It is Spring Break and like most good teachers I am spending my time wisely - cleaning! Well, cleaning may not be the correct term. Digging out from under the pile of "stuff" that accumulates during the school year that I keep putting off till later would be more accurate.

I'm not the best housekeeper, but honestly I'm not the worst. It's just that during the school year I come home and the last thing on my mind is dealing with housework. Add to the mix my sweet daughter who occasionally "cleans" for me (which means it all gets stuffed into a closet no matter what it is) and when I finally get a few days off, SOMETHING has to be done!

I put off that closet all week but this is the last day of break and that closet has been taunting me all week long. Today I plugged in my courage and opened that closet door.

I was immediately greeted with piles of Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, craft supplies, and a few unidentifiable costume pieces. In my defense, I do children's ministry and you never know what you'll need for a Sunday morning object lesson AND my daughter was the one to put all the odd and end Christmas supplies in the wrong closet. Still, somebody had to do something with that closet and I am "somebody".

It wasn't long before I had pulled out half the contents of the closet and it was piled on the table, the counter and the floor. That's where today's random thought came in...the closet was bad, and it was going to be better, but in the middle it looked a whole lot worse.

Life is a lot like my closet, whether it's getting healthy, parenting, or even dealing with finances. Getting to where you want to be can get messy and in the middle of it, things may even look a lot worse than when you started, but don't give up. It's just a part of the process.

Take for example, dieting and getting in shape. Ever see someone who is OUT of shape start going to the gym? After a couple of visits they don't look like they are getting stronger; they look like they need to be in physical therapy just to be able to walk! But anyone who has made it through those first agonizing sessions knows, they are getting stronger...and quitting is NOT the answer, even though they may feel like it.

So why is it that I am able to understand that in closet cleaning and in working out and just about every other area of my life the "looking worse instead of better is all a part of the process but in my prayer life and in Bible study I forget. I start to pray and things don't get better - they get FAR worse! I was just reminded of that part in the movie "War Room" when Priscilla Shirer's character prayed and instead of everything suddenly becoming sunshine and lollipops it looked like everything was falling apart at once. Of course it looks that way, because it will get better but first...

Remember the story of Daniel when he prayed and an angel came to him. The angel told him that he had been sent the moment that Daniel had humbled himself and prayed, but that the prince of Persia had delayed him. I have to wonder what all was going on in Daniel's life during those three weeks of waiting. Did his world look a little like the mess I had all over the place as I tried to clean out that closet? Was he surrounded by seemingly unending chaos? Was his wrapping paper mixed in with craft supplies, children's costumes, object lessons, and junk that should have just been thrown away a long time ago? Oh wait, we're talking about Daniel here, not my closet...sorry.

The point is that when we set out to set something right, something that has somehow gotten out of order, it more often than not starts to look a whole lot worse before it finally starts to look better. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it's so we can realize that it's a lot harder to get things BACK into order than it would have been so just keep them in order in the first place. Maybe it's so we can learn to recognize what is really important. Maybe it's just because we live in a fallen world. 

We will be tempted to just stuff everything back into the closet and quickly close the door. With any luck no one will look in there till summer - or ever...but instead we push through. After all, we can't just leave the Santa wrapping paper and the dolphin bank and the purple fairy wings sitting in the middle of the dining room table, and we know eventually someone will open that door.  

Don't give up. While it might look like things are getting worse instead of better, we know that He Who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it if we will hang in there and let Him! Now on to that OTHER closet.

Daniel 10:12 (MSG)

“‘Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what’s ahead.’

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