Pain and recovery from it has taken its toll. In a good way. I look back on the last several years of my life – my first years of adulthood and headship – and I can’t say I’m not disappointed in the stuff I bogged us down with: music, movies, books, material possessions, sports obsessions. The list could go on. Some things were objectionable, most was not – all of it was a waste of time. I’ll be honest with myself and admit that I am reacting against a very trying and traumatic time in my life. Lashing out against an enemy that, in my sensitive state, may or may not be what I think it is; but there is one thing I know to be true: If I read Philippians 4:8 and measure all of that stuff up against the standard of Christ, I wasted a lot of headspace on dung.
Now this isn’t a youth retreat moment. I’m not committing to “scratching up all my CCM CD’s when I get back home” or throwing my stick in the fire. I’m watching and allowing my heart – my soul – to be sanctified. None of these changes are of myself, saying, “That’s it! I have to change!” It happens like this: I follow God. He takes some junk and replaces it with a blessing. I follow God. He allows me to desire a Psalm over a pop song. In fact, I would feel like I understood all of this a bit better if it were a moment like the many I experienced in my naive high school days, but this is an all new experience for me. The fact that these attitudes and actions are seemingly flowing naturally out of my heart lifts up the name of the Holy Spirit as the great Sanctifier of men.
I had the privilege recently of seeing Philippians 4:8 lived out before my eyes. Lives lived so carefully that there was truly a hatred of “even the garment stained by the flesh”. I won’t lie – I wanted what these people had. I found myself convicted of my own compromise. Self conscious about all of the remaining signs of a life lived “mostly” for Christ. Dare I say, ashamed? And yet, overjoyed. Overjoyed because I don’t have to wallow. I don’t have to resign myself to anything. I am at liberty to have as much of Christ as I desire and as little of this world as I choose. And so I find myself cleaning house again. It’s not the first time in recent months. I’m sure it won’t be the last. Each time the waste basket (the literal one and the waste basket of the heart) gets a bit more full. And each time I find that I don’t miss any of it.
Praise God for holiness. Praise God for the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for forgiveness and restoration.