Across the Pastor’s Desk: Let it go and focus more on God

Published 7:57 pm Thursday, February 28, 2019

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Josh Enderson

Joshua Enderson


Despite what it looks like, we are only 20 days from the first day of spring. And, in the church, we are nearly to the start of the season of Lent. During both of these seasons, we carry out similar acts. Many of us will go through the act of “spring cleaning” our homes. We will go through things, tidy up what has gotten a bit cluttered during our winter hibernations, and take stock of what we have. We may pull out a book like Marie Kondo’s “The Art of Tidying Up” and start going through our storage rooms, shedding those things that no longer “spark joy” in our lives.

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For those who are part of a faith community that celebrates Lent, we do a similar thing during the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Lent is a time to take stock of our faith lives, to see what is working and what is not. It is a time to do some spring cleaning in our faith lives.

Both in our lives of things and our lives of faith, we may be surprised at what has accumulated over time. Our culture tells us that the more things we have, the better off we are. A full storage room or a cluttered living room is a sign that God has blessed you. And yet, that’s not the way God works in the Bible.

A great example of how God calls on us to deal with our things comes from Exodus. The Hebrew people have left Egypt and are wandering in the wilderness. As they wander, food becomes scarce and they start complaining to Moses. God says that God will provide for them by sending bread from heaven, what the Hebrews call manna. But, God adds a caveat: Only collect enough for one day and don’t try and hoard extra. Those who collected extra found that the excess rotted quickly, and led to bugs and other unpleasantness in their tents.

How true this story is for our own lives. When life becomes all about ourself  and our own perceived safety, things and stuff become the center of our lives. We push God out, trusting in the hoard of things that we have stashed in our basement. But, like the Israelites, that excess stuff only causes problems and ends up making us miserable. Speaking about things and money, agrarian writer and farmer Wendell Berry says, “To make a living is not to make a killing, but to have enough.” When our lives become consumed with consuming and having more, we have less room for what really matters in life.

So, as you start to think about what lies in the recesses of your basement or attic, think about what you actually need and what you might be able to get rid of. Do you really need all those clothes that have been sitting in your basement for 10 years, or could someone else put them to better use? What can you let go of in order to free yourself up? Because, in the end, you can’t take any of it with you. Why not let it go now, clear out the rotting manna, and start living the life focused on God and not on stuff?

Josh Enderson is a pastor at Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.