We’re craving minimalism these days — simplification, peace, and order. (For proof, look no further than the 75-week New York Times Best Seller from which this post gets its name.) More money and more tools and more years have given us more life to manage – greater complexity to organize and secure.
We can certainly achieve a level of peace through external structure and ordered spaces. We can’t live well if we’re constantly tripping over our life.
But the prophet Isaiah has more important things to say about putting the things of this world in their proper place:
For the Lord of hosts has a day
against all that is proud and lofty,
against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low (Isaiah 2:12)
That day, Isaiah says, will come
against all the cedars of Lebanon,
lofty and lifted up;
and against all the oaks of Bashan;
against all the lofty mountains,
and against all the uplifted hills;
against every high tower,
and against every fortified wall;
against all the ships of Tarshish,
and against all the beautiful craft
Cedars and oaks, mountains and hills, towers and walls, ships filled with treasures and talent.
Our circumstances, our safety, our stuff, our skills.
They’ll never save us. They never have.
And we know it. We can feel how tenuous they are — security, reputation, things. We hear the news, we know the stories, we lie awake at night on a glass bridge over disaster.
The measure of the world’s weakness is betrayed by the measure of our anxiety. The more impermanent, the more unreliable a thing is, the more afraid we are that we will lose it.
God comes to declutter our souls by re-organizing things a bit:
And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,
and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:17, emphasis mine).
God on the top shelf, man down below.
For His people, God’s discipline isn’t about punishment. It’s about putting things back in order. He brings our towers low so they will stop hiding His face. He sets our feet on the ground so we can view the full mountain of His mercy and strength. He quiets our anxieties by exposing and replacing the shaky, shadowy places we put our trust with the light of His greatness.
Because fear only happens when you make your life too big and your God too small.
If you’ve wondered how to focus more on what’s good and right and true in the midst of managing your hectic and cluttered life, soul-tidying doesn’t start with minimizing our stuff. It starts with maximizing our God.
To organize our souls, we must become partners with Him in His work of righting proportions — the Lord above all things, and His glad and humble people at His feet.
To gain a clean heart and a right spirit, free from fear and distraction, we start by worshiping Him with every breath.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:1-4).