" It arose one morning from the bowels of my desk, a formless mass that spread and covered itself over anything I was looking for. "Who are you?" I asked.
"I am Clutter," the mass answered, "and I am here to confound your life. I am the things you refuse to throw out though you haven't used them in six years, the miscellaneous papers, phone numbers, business cards, and the stuff you don't put away. I am Clutter."
I grabbed Clutter and moved it from one end of the desk to the other.
Clutter chortled. "That's my favorite pastime. Moving from one end of the desk to the other."
"I'm throwing you out," I stormed.
Clutter shook his untidy mass sadly, as in pity. "Not without looking through me to see if there's anything you really need," Clutter answered. "The odds are slim, but you won't take that chance. And while you're sorting through me, I'll re-form in another pile."
"But you'll be smaller, more manageable."
"Not really. You'll decide to keep 90% of me, as you always do. And soon, new papers, numbers, documents will gather, making me more obstructive than ever."
"You won't ruin my life, Clutter! I'll start a filing system. Put a bit of you where you belong."
Clutter gazed at me contemptuously. "The last time you tried that, you created my cousins, Chaos and Disorder. It'll never work."
Clutter had me and I knew it. Attempts in the past to file things alphabetically had only created 26 piles of mess instead of one. I was desperate, so I decided to bluff.
Exasperated, I ran to the closet. "I'll throw you in here!"
Clutter had been to the closet before me. Shoes were scattered, shirts were unhung, clumps of pants and underwear lay strewn next to towels and a lawn chair. Socks congealed in small piles, looking like the waste product of some nylon-eating monster.
"Clutter," I yelled. "You have crippled my productivity for the last time. No longer will I be late, no more will I miss appointments, Never again shall I be overwhelmed by your size and withdraw into reading old magazines. I am going out to the store to buy a paper shredder."
I looked around for a long moment. "Now where did I leave my keys?"
Lord Come to My Messy House. Today we go with Jesus to the home of Mary and Martha, two sisters, and later Jesus goes to the same home when their brother Lazarus dies. This home appears to be a place of great comfort and rest for the Lord, good friends as he is in this home on multiple occasions. Sally and I know that if travel to So. Cal. a number of people would open their home on a moments notice up and down the coast. Mary and Martha have such a familiar and comfortable relationship with the Lord.
Jesus goes to the home of his friends, catching them with a messy house; the matriarch of the home, Martha, has a different response from Martha’s sister, Mary: Martha insists on fluttering around picking up, Mary ignores the clutter and sits at the feet of Jesus. It’s a question of priorities / how to welcome Jesus. Martha is “distracted by all the preparations”, Mary is submissive, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words, effectively becoming a disciple of Jesus.
Remember the first messy house message? Some of you thought I insulted Sally because I seemed to imply that she was not a perfect housekeeper. I was glad when one of you defended me afterwards! The point was that we all have standards, priorities of what is most important. Families work patterns out – in my house I rarely clean the bathrooms, because my standards are lower than anyone else, so I am willing for the bathrooms to get messier than other people, so they are almost always cleaned before the messy threshold is lowered to my standard. In my house, I am willing to make dinner five times a week, but everyone understands that Carl only uses three ingredients or less, so if the rest of the family can live with that, then we all get along. But if you want a good meal then someone else has to do it. Priorities, standards. The problem comes when one spouse imposes his/her standards on the other – a demanding spouse that insists on a certain level of neatness is typical, yet does little to help accomplish it.
What are your standards? How does your walk with Jesus Christ fit into your priorities? This scripture is about how to welcome Jesus to your home – not a question of if you believe or not. There is no question but that Martha loves her friend Jesus, she just needed to adjust some of her thinking/practices. The question raised by Martha and Mary is that once you invite Jesus into your house, how do you welcome him? Martha’s answer is to keep making preparations, Mary’s answer is to sit at his feet.
Whenever I meet with young couples about their weddings, one of the standard pieces of advise I give them: work as hard as you want making all the preparations so that it is a perfect day (whatever that means), but when the day comes, you’ve done everything you can, now enjoy the wedding, the people, the ceremony, the party.
People are always more important, the event you are planning is more important than a few details that did not quite get finished. So what if your house is not perfect when the guests arrive, the people are more important then a swept floor, the perfect dinner. So what if there is clutter in your office. Jesus is always a top priority. Let the dishes sit, quit apologizing for your house! You care about the clutter of your house more than anyone else. Draw a line and focus on that which is most important.
That’s what we do with their messy lives. We try and make ourselves presentable before we sit down with Christ, after all, we would not want Jesus Christ to know we are sinners and we have problems. Like hiding symptoms from doctors.
Revisit last week’s message a moment, Zaccheaus, remember when Zac instantly changed and pronounced he was going to sell half his goods and give four times the amount what he had been defrauded…this was not based on teaching of Jesus, he instinctively knew what to do… most people know what they need to do to change their life, it’s not a matter of knowing, it’s a matter of doing. Seldom do people NOT know what is more important….
It would do many Christians good to learn to sit in His presence and forget about the cares of the world. Learn to love the Lord more than your worries and you will be able to find that calm place in His blessed presence.
Martha was concerned with preparing the meal and serving her guests. Mary, however, was more concerned with being in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both sisters loved the Lord, both sisters welcomed Jesus into their home, both wanted to be hospitable, yet one is declared by Jesus himself to have chosen the better way, the more welcoming way. Martha is not wrong, her choice is simply not the best…
I had a wedding a couple years ago in which the bride had an absolute detailed plan in her mind of how the platform area would look – the wedding was in a barn. Guests were arriving, and the bride’s helpers had not done the decorations right. The groom could care less, while the bride tweeked this and that and put flowers and decorations in the perfect place. I could hardly believe it, with 20 minutes before the ceremony, she was on her hands and knees pinning cotton balls to the front of the platform to make the perfect cloud formations. Finally, with about ten minutes to go she finished the decorations, and I am not joking one bit, she got in her car to go home to take a shower, get dressed and then have her hair done. I think we were about an hour and a half late. The bride wanted to get married, no question about that, but somehow she had a funny idea of what was most important. Funny priorities.
When you invite any guest into your home, your guest is most important – including Jesus. A messy house, a messy life, preparations not quite perfect – let it go. Let the dishes sit and enjoy your guest. Let the hurts and heartaches, the stresses, the worries of your life go and simply spend time with the Lord. Lord, Come to My Messy House. This is who I am. My house is not perfect, my office is not perfect, and neither is my life. Mary demonstrates the better way.
Luke 10:41-42. Mary found fulfillment and contentment. What she found at His feet was worth more than all the money in the world. In sitting at the Lord's feet, Mary found something that millions live their entire lives and never discover. She found acceptance and true contentment. When you open your home to Christ, when you open your life, enjoy him… focus on him… turn off the television, turn off the ball game, turn off the sounds, focus on the one whom you have brought into your house.
Mary has an honored place in this story. It’s amazingly revolutionary Jesus was teaching her at all. Women did not normally have the privilege of being taught by a rabbi. But Jesus was different. He was ushering in a kingdom that was open to female and male, child and adult, Gentile and Jew. Martha in her fretting and worrying had missed the fact that Jesus was teaching a woman – like her! She could have had this privilege, but her over-busy lifestyle means she misses this radical implication of the Gospel.
Christ did not say Martha had chosen the wrong thing and Mary had chosen the right thing. The things which Martha had been doing, hospitality, were good things but it was a lesser thing than at that moment sitting at the feet of Christ and hearing the Word of God. Mary has heard while sitting at the feet of Jesus what is of eternal value – “it will not be taken from her.” Sitting in his presence, listening to his voice, hearing the Word of God – it will not be taken from her.
Lord, Come to my Messy House. The decorations may not have been arranged quite right but now it is time to enjoy the wedding. Your life may not be in perfect order, but now is the time to welcome the Lord Jesus Christ into your life and pay attention to him, the messiness of your life doesn’t matter – set that aside and sit at his feet. Listen to him. Pay attention to him.
Prayer: “Lord I welcome you to my messy house, the dishes are piled high and the dinner not quite ready, the homework is not quite finished, we just had a fight, my house is full of tension and worries, but come in anyway, I welcome you, I invite you, I want to put aside all the messiness and hear what you have to say. Come Lord Jesus. Amen.