Out with the old.
I recently started watching this show on A&E called Hoarders. For those of you unaware of the show, let me give you a quick run down. Each show is made up of 2 peoples stories. Each of these people struggle with a psychological condition known as hoarding, which is the uncontrollable desire to accumulate “stuff” and the paralyzing fear of getting rid of any of it. Now on the surface, this may not seem like a good reason to make a TV show, but the more I watch it the more fascinating it gets. These people are living in situations where they have so much stuff, most of it junk, that they cannot live not live normal lives. They are literally drowning in possessions. Some of these people suffer from this condition so badly that it becomes a health issue because there is so much trash in their homes that they should and do become very ill.
I bring this show up for a few reasons, first of all I can relate to these people. No, I don’t accumulate massive amounts of junk, but in my life I build up collections of things, both physical and otherwise, that cause problems in my lives. I bet if we all looked at ourselves we could all admit to ourselves that we have things we hold on to, even though they cause us problems. Secondly, I bring this up because it is the start of a new year which means we have a choice to make, continue in our normal habits or decide to wipe the slate clean.
For years when I was in High School I took every chance I could to continue living on a path that caused trouble in my life. I was a bit of a rebellious kid and definitely had an attitude problem. I went to a small Christian school and there were tons of rules we had to follow every day: Dress codes, codes of conduct, things of that nature. I tried every day of every year I was in school to find my way around the rules. Most days I didn’t outright break rules, but if there was a way to bend a rule, you can bet your ipod that I would find it and exploit it . In my 4 years in high school, at least a dozen additions to our school’s dress code were made based entirely on my ability to find and exploit weaknesses in the policy’s wording.
Now I don’t tell you this to encourage you all to follow in my footsteps. Really I’m telling you this because I finally realized how much more I had to work in school to keep up. I had homework, sports, music, art, presentations, and on top of all of that I “had” to find ways to bend the rules. Really I was shooting myself in the foot. I was always exhausted, stressed, and worn down, yet somehow I had to find the energy for normal school stuff like homework, sports, and dating. I wasn’t punishing the school with my actions, I was punishing myself. Wearing myself thin fighting against a system that eventually would always win.
In the New Testament there was a guy named Saul. He was a very prominent Jewish man who made it his agenda to persecute followers of Christ. Saul didn’t go around sneakily finding ways to get around what Christians were doing, no, he was upfront and outright doing his best to fight the Christian machine. He would find Jesus followers and stone them to death. He would bring them up on charges of blasphemy, theft, and other charges that would give Christians a bad name. Then one day it hit him… literally, the voice of God struck him down… on a road… outside of a city called Damascus. He was on his was to subvert Christians when God spoke to him, shown Himself in bright light and blinded him.
I’m sure you all know this story, but for those that don’t, let’s read a bit.
Acts 9: 1-9
The Blinding of Saul 1-2 All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master's disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem. 3-4He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: "Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?"
5-6He said, "Who are you, Master?"
"I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you'll be told what to do next."
7-9His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn't see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.
After this whole ordeal, Saul’s life changed around pretty quickly. He went from killing Christians to being one of their most outspoken representatives. He made so much of an impact that the Jews that knew him before even tried to kill him.
Saul was a lot like the people on that show Hoarders. He was gathering up hatered for followers of Christ, for no real reason at all. God came down and intervened and made him into the most powerful voice of Christianity the world has ever known!
Looking back, Saul had a choice, keep being a tool that hunted Christians like they were Deer in Wisconsin, or Spread the love of God to anyone and everyone who would listen like a fire!
Flash back for a second to me in High School. Every day I had a choice to make, and that choice was killing me every day, much like the people on Hoarders, and much like Saul. Every day we have a decision to make, do we continue to be what we think the world wants us to be, or do we strive to put past us all of the crap that we’ve put on ourselves and instead pick up and share the love of Christ with everyone we can.
It’s the start of a new school year. I wanted to commemorate that with a bit of an overhaul of the youth room. New paint, new lights, a new layout. All of these things were a concerted decision that were made to make this place more effective. It is your room, a place where you can come and take ownership, learn about your faith, and, God willing, bring others to to share God’s love with them. This is your place now, no one before you has called this room their own in this way.
Now think about yourselves, how can you make a change. How can you be the person that God is calling you to be, the person who has never been here before? What is it that you know is a negative in your lives that you can put in the past? Is it gossip? Cliques? Drinking? Swearing? Stealing? Cheating? Maybe its acting inappropriately on the internet. Whatever it is, God is calling you to pray long and hard about it and if it is keeping you from being closer to Him, its probably about time to put it out in the dumpster.
We know God grants forgiveness, it doesn’t matter what the sin, he will wipe it away. It’s also pretty rad that God has put people in your lives that are here to help you on your path. I’m not dumb, so I realize most of you wouldn’t talk to your parents about any real issues you may be having, but you have a room full of people here that love you and care about you and are here to help you. Remember that, and if you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone else, know that you can talk to me. I;m not here to judge you or tell your secret problems to anyone else. I’m here to show you the Love Christ has for you and me and all of us.
So lets start this year off right. Let’s stop collecting junk that is killing us, and instead make the changes Christ gives us to live a life to its fullest.