Sometimes, I hang on to things I don't really need. There is sixty or so pounds of paper shoved in Rubbermaid containers- most every piece of mail that I have received in the last five years, clothes that fit me four years ago, but short of a miracle will never fit me again, lots and lots and LOTS of books I will likely never read again. Then there are the things inside of me I hang on to; ideas about how my kids should be, things I think I need to be, ways of doing things that haven't worked since the days when I only had two kids, and on and on it goes.
In many ways I feel like 2011 is a year of new beginnings. The last five years have been the most difficult of my life emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially. The Lord has been faithful and compassionate to show me it's time to take out the trash. When things are hard for so long it's hard to believe they will ever change, ever get better. I have lived the last five years waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew in my heart that God was for me, but in my head I felt like He was against me. I was becoming bitter.
I've been reading the book of Jonah, and one thing I realized for the first time is that the big fish swallowing Jonah wasn't God's punishment. It was God's grace! When the storm came, and the other men realized that Jonah was to blame for the storm Jonah told them to throw him overboard. I always thought God sent the fish as a strange time-out for Jonah to give him an opportunity to think about what he has done, but Jonah 1:17 says "But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah". While Jonah certainly had time to ponder his disobedience there, God really sent the fish to take Jonah to safety so Jonah could complete the task God had for him!
In the fish, Jonah prays, and toward the end of his prayer he says "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (2:8). The clothes, the papers, the pain, the past....all these things I have been clinging to and allowing to color my present are all idols. But God is making all things new! He is renewing my mind, my heart, my life, and it is time to take those idols and put them where they belong- the trash!
Jesus, take my worthless idols, and shatter them to pieces. I don't want them anymore. I want You. I know the storms of the last five years have hurt, but I know you have used them to change me, and you have always been faithful to preserve and protect me. I know You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love. Redeem the past, and take my future and make it something beautiful...for the sake of Your glory.