12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
Its interesting that in the New International Version in place of the word sanctification the word holiness is used.
Holiness is a tricky subject for me because I can fall into old patterns of performance orientation.
I'm pretty sure that is not what God is looking for.
This weekend I cleaned and organized my corner office/ work space. It had gotten to the point that I did not even want to spend time there. It was not just the surface that was a mess. Under the desk tables was filled with file and old papers, the drawers were all full of stuff I have not even looked at in two years. I've known for a while that I needed to deal with it all soon.
I think as God works internally in our lives we find our selve becoming able to deal with the stuff in our life that has become un-manageable.
So you are probably wondering what cleaning my office has to do with holiness or sanctification?
Wickapedia says Holiness is the state of being holy or sacred. Holiness is being clean or pure, to be holy is to be like a god.
I think Holiness is more than making yourself adhere to a list of don't. Don't drink, don't cuss, don't fornicate, don't murder....
I liked this quote that I found written by a guy named Bill Burkett "In Old Testament times, when a thing - such as a piece of furniture that belonged to the Tabernacle or Temple - was sanctified, it was considered holy unto the Lord. It was never to be used for any other purpose than that for which it was dedicated. To become holy, then, was to become the property of God, set aside for the service of God, according to His will.
With inanimate objects, the will was not involved, so the process was simple. For instance, the little shovel to be used to scoop the ashes from the altar was formed by the artificer according to the commandment of God. Then it was dedicated to its stated function. That was all.
With people it is different, because we have wills and many complex mental, physical, and spiritual patterns. But up to this point, we have a very good example of the principle of holiness: To be separated from the past and recreated from our original state into a person of usefulness to the Lord of glory."
I've had to make room to accommodate painting. I had all the paints in a drawer and you had to rummage through to find the color you wanted. The tubes are shaped so you can stack them or set them in a way as to be able to easily see the color. So you can see in the picture my solution.
I have been going through similar processes in my inner life. Its not that I've become a professional navel gazer but I have been working on cleaning up my inner life.
I am realizing that our purpose often gets mixed up in the expectations of people, in the positive and negative messages that we receive along the way. Sometimes with in our particular culture some activities are deemed acceptable for some people. The gifts and talents that God has given us often find a way to be used but not always in the way God had intended. For example I have spent much of my life working in children's ministry. In many of the churches I had been a part of there was not a lot of places at the table for women with a gift of pastoring or shepherding. So my gift came out where it could - in the children's ministry. I'm coming to see that I have had to go back through all the baggage and really search out what exactly did the Lord have in mind for me to do with particular gifts, talents, callings.
For years my way of dealing with that answer has been to simply be available. If you see need and can do something - do it. Here the thing I've discovered - not everything that needs done is my job to do. I may be hindering someone else from fulfilling their purpose.
So back to holiness and sanctification. I'm pretty convinced it is not a grit your teeth and try to fit yourself into some holy package. Just like David the shepherd boy, I can't try to wear the armor of someone else. I have to figure out who God says I am and through my association with him, I begin to change into his likeness. One thing about Jesus is that he was fully who he was intended to be. In spending time with him I am able to more and more deal with old baggage and more and more able to discover what it is that he created me to do and be. Its a process, and he won't just barge in and start cleaning house. He waits to be invited.
So in much the same way as my office is just one space in my house that is now cleaned up.
I had to deal with the past. I saved some things that were keepsakes and put them away in the lower drawer. Everything has its place and its reason for being in that area. The rest has been removed. I need to do this to many other areas of my house. There was a lot of stuff in our last move that I just could not deal with. I had already gotten rid of more than half of our stuff in moving from a big 5 bedroom house to a small 2 1/2 bedroom house. The big stuff like furniture is easy to get rid of but the boxes of papers, books and photos and kids school work just got put in boxes to be dealt with later.
So I am asking myself in each room - what do I need to accomplish God's plans and purposes at this time. I look at the kitchen. I don't generally have 8-12 people at my dinner table any more. They just don't fit. I think I could get rid of some of the dishes and dessert cups.
Its a process, my corner office took all day on Saturday to work through.
It has been a long couple of years of working through stuff from my past in the cleaning up of my internal house. I can celebrate the little victories along the way but still see a lot of work that needs to be done.
The good news is that I am finding myself more and more able to deal with things. I have a clearer sense of God's purposes for me and that allows me to be able to decide what to do with stuff. I hope I've made sense out of this. I am going to have to leave you to ponder this more on your own because I have lessons that I need to get to this morning and my time for writing has come to an end.
Lord help us to discover who you created each of us to be. Help us to deal with the past baggage that we have felt compelled to carry along with us because we just did not know what to do with it. Help us lighten the load, even when the new found lightness is frightening and unfamiliar.