Monday afternoon my wife and I were in an interesting situation. We lost $100. Well, it was a $100 gift card to Safeway that we were given as a Christmas gift. We needed to pick up some things, and it was a blessing to be able to go and get it from this store. We sat down, looked at the website, put some things on the card and the list, found the deals, set ourselves up for a shopping trip. I loaded all the deals on the card, got my wallet and keys, put on my jacket, and we couldn’t find the gift card. So, like anyone would do when they lose that amount of money, we started frantically looking. We started to blame each other. She said I had it last. I said that she had it last. We both remembered two totally different versions of the last time we saw it. It wasn’t in the place where we put “stuff”, so that forced us to check other places. I checked my wallet. She checked her purse. Nothing. I checked my book bag. She checked another purse. Nothing. Then we started digging through everything. My wife started to clean off the desk on her side of the bed, I started to tear apart my nightstand. We were finding papers from June of last year, receipts from anniversary trips, gift cards that had nothing on them, old movie stubs. Everything. As we poured through all this old stuff, we kept throwing things away, eliminating distractions in the process. Once I had cleared my nightstand and she had cleaned off her desk, she says, “maybe I’ll go and look back in the kitchen again.” I kept looking in my room and then I heard my wife yell to the bedroom from the kitchen. She came into the room and threw something at me that hit me in the back. It was the missing Safeway gift card. Where was it? Sitting next to the “stuff” holder. It was right next to where the initial search started. We rejoiced and I was preparing to go to the store nearly an hour after I originally planned to. As I was walking out the door I said to her, “Sometimes you just need to clean up. That’s probably going to be something I write about later.” And here we are.

This is a slam dunk analogy for the start of a new year. Cleaning out the old and making way for the new. New year, new start. Whatever you want to say here, it probably works. But the thing that was so important to me in this whole exchange was that the thing we needed was always there. We spend so much time trying to add to what we already have that we cover up the only thing we really need. A lot of us are sitting there with Christ and expecting something else. We are proficient at Christ plus. We feel like there must be something else. So we try to do more. We try to say better things. Act a certain way. Do things that other people tell us we need in order to validate Christ. In the end we just need Christ. We forget that the Gospel is enough.

This year, we need to stop covering up the Gospel and trying to make it something extra special or extra pretty. It doesn’t need our help. You might be covering it up with your job. You might be covering it up with your family. Your position. Your money. Your old habits. Your insecurities. I’m here today to say to you that the Gospel does not need your help. Sometimes you just have to clean up all the stuff you’ve piled on top of it and let it be. It is strong enough by itself to do exactly what it needs to do. It is powerful. Simple. Beautiful. Sometimes we just need to clean up and let the Gospel shine through. When it does, not only will it remind you of where you started, but it’s going to shine on someone else too. That’s when it is at its best. What do you need to clean up to let the Gospel shine through in your life again?

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