I spent the better part of this week in a garage surrounded by boxes, old clothes, nicknacks and whatnots, memories from yesteryear — and a few scary spidery insects that kept wanting to be friends with me.
Besides the few times I screamed at the top of my lungs and grabbed for the bug spray, it was a cathartic experience to clean out old boxes and ready a space for a garage sale. While that may not seem like any kind of life-altering event, it was soul-altering for me. It became a healing time in some places of my heart. Bittersweet and convicting in others. Energizing in still more. Why?
Because it was a big lesson in yielding, and letting go.
There are areas of my “innermost” in which God lay dormant. For years. He was still there, but I’d shoved my relationship with Him behind my wants. My view of life. Into the manufactured boxes of my schedule, entertainment, comforts, distractions, finances, work, home, and yes… even the garage. The evidence was all around. Stacked in boxes. Lined up hanger-to-hanger, stuffed on a clothes rack. Taking up space on tabletops and lining all sides: my old life.
Someone once told me that you’ll find out how much fight you’ve got in you by how quickly you yield when a threat shows up at your door.
How true that statement is.
As a writer, I tell stories. I get to invite others in my life. And sometimes (no matter how pride-swallowing the experience), candor is necessary: I’d yielded. For years. Every time a knock came to my door, I yielded to it. Maybe because threats against my walk with Jesus didn’t arrive clothed in darkness. They came in lovely packages. And so I poured my effort into… well, Me.
I owned a career in a good, comfortable-pay field. I had a family whom I loved. Travel and corporate-climbing opportunities that made life interesting and enjoyable. A faith that was nice and neat — never messy and certainly never on display. And I had money to spend as I wished. So I did. There was no great sin in clothes. Purses. Shoes. Me, me, and more me. Anything that would fit in a closet was yielded to and then shoved into my life. Distractions of time, money, entertainment. And from there, the little concessions of my heart became a slow build up to the tear-down. It was the yielding of Me away from God, day-by-apathetic-day, step-by-me-loving-step, and box-by-stuffed-box.
In the Greek, the yielding of who we are has a small, but potent definition:
(v.) meaning: “I give away”
Oh, how I want to go back — years if I could — and tell the younger me that following Christ is not about public behavior modification.
It’s not voting a certain way.
It’s not wearing a creased dress and a Sunday smile once a week.
It’s not making a worldly success of my life.
Not acting holy. Not torturing myself for the stacks and stacks of boxes I’d accumulated in the corners of my life. Christianity is not just reading a few verses from a Book. Or simply going to a group study. (Though, those things become part of the air we breathe in this life-walk with Jesus!) And it’s certainly not feeling better because “at least I didn’t commit that sin over there…” before sharing truth with my brothers and sisters who own lesser behavior modification than I do.
Being a Christian is yielding.
It’s in the day-by-day giving away.
At our core — IT IS YIELDING TO HIM, and not to anyone or anything else. It’s in the daily giving away of ourselves.
Whatever that looks like to us. Is it yielding control? Is it the giving away of past pain? Unforgiveness? Bitterness or lost hope? Maybe it’s addiction somewhere. Maybe your yielding looks like apathy, like mine did, the not realizing we even need to yield. The falling deeper, and deeper into myself and giving Him a passing thought. Time lost, God given away…Every. Single. Day.
If you stop by our garage this autumn, know that I don’t take this sale lightly. I’m happy if one of my old treasures can make you smile. Because you’re helping me more than you know. It’s the empty boxes I want to see, the yielding to Jesus I long for. The yielding to and not away from all-things-Him. The turning Me into He — and letting the heart modification follow.
If you’re searching today, if you’re battling boxes somewhere… yielding stacked to the ceiling and stuffed to the far corners of your life… you are not alone. (Did you need to hear that? I know I did once.) Try for a moment, right where you are, to think about what it would feel like to let go.
What would it feel like to clean out those boxes? Not because the garage would be empty when you’re through, but because there would be room for what and Who really matters.
What would it feel like to yield?
To surrender… everything?
I don’t know. Not yet. I’m still in transit. Cleaning corners. Freeing up space. Unpacking boxes. And giving away. But along this story road, we’ll begin to notice the embers of a slow-burn-fire. One that isn’t afraid of every threat that comes knocking.
Not this time.
Because we’re yielding, but only to this. Only to Him.
Boxless and giving away,