That is how I felt when we began our usual “spring cleanup” outside. After a long winter and wet spring, it was time to clean up the yard and prepare our outside space for summer picnics and swimming. I love summer, don’t you? While people complain about the heat, I embrace the warmth of the sunlight like a person thirsty for water. Longer days, cookouts, swimming, and more time with friends and family are just a few highlights of my beloved summer season. However, before I can embrace this sweet, special time of year, we have to clean up the remains of a long, cold, wet winter.
Walking around our landscaping, which totally surrounds our house, it became apparent, that the warming temperatures, while good for my soul, also encouraged the growth of new weeds. What looked amazing just last summer, now looked terrible. Lots of weeds had taken root in our beautiful landscape, while the wet weather caused mildew on the house due to lack of sun. I then took a look at our outside deck furniture and saw that it needed to be sanded and repainted in some areas. Our covered deck was dirty, and pollen had accumulated, casting a yellow tint
on everything. I walked to our outside deck, which leads to our above-ground pool, and saw it needed cleaned and some touch up paint. The final thing I inspected, was our above-ground pool. One look at this and I wanted to run away. The pool cover had somehow ripped during the bad weather of winter leaving it open to the elements. I couldn’t even see the bottom of the pool; it was that bad. Leaves from our neighbor’s trees evidently blew into our pool causing it to look like a swap filled with leaves and dirt. Seeing this pushed me over the edge. I went to my husband, who was mentally beginning to plan his strategy to tackle all this work, and said, “Let’s sell the house!” That was my initial, emotional, reaction. In my mind, there was just too much work. It would take too long, and it would be too hard. Have you ever looked at a situation in your life like that? Like I said, I was overwhelmed.
So, what’s a girl to do when she is overwhelmed? I wanted to just leave the house, let my husband deal with it, and somehow when I came back, it would all be in beautiful shape. But I knew the RIGHT thing was participate in the process and keep focused.
Proverbs 24:5, says “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.” (NLT)
Sometimes, you just have to engage, see things the way they are presently, and then embrace the process to see the beauty of transformation.
Do you remember the story of Joshua and Caleb and the ten spies who spied out the promised land? After forty days, they came back to report to Moses what they had found. The ten spies said the land was beautiful, BUT, they would never be able to take it because the people living there are GIANTS. However, Caleb and Joshua, who were with the same spies, came back to Moses with a totally different response. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We
can certainly conquer it!” Numbers 13:30 (NLT).
Wow! What seemed overwhelming for the ten spies, seemed like an exciting adventure for Caleb and Joshua. I am always intrigued by the way different people perceive challenges. Even in their wording. Some people say, “we have a problem,” while others say, “we have a challenging situation.” Both are correct, but perception certainly indicates your outcome.
What was involved to get to the promised land? There was a process to see the victory. First, silencing the discouraging voices. Moses, Caleb and Joshua dealt with a lot of weeping and complaining from all the Israelites.
Sometimes the voices of others can be overwhelming.
Sometimes, it is our own voice that is overwhelming.
Caleb and Joshua had an answer for them. Here is what they said:
“The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” Numbers 14:7-9 (NLT)
Next, they had to do the work, which was overwhelming. Forty years of overwhelming. Forty years of complaining. Forty years of disobedience. We know that the Israelites did cross the Jordan river and arrive at the Promised Land. We also know that not everyone made it. An entire generation that doubted God, died in the wilderness. However, for those who continued the journey, they received the promise.
Listening to God’s voice above every other voice, (even your own), and then doing the hard work, will give you the reward. Our spring cleanup is almost done. I stopped complaining, then together, we formulated a plan of attack, which involved me helping. Right now, the pool is cleaned and just about ready for our first summer guests. I am grateful for friends, who lent us their fishing “waders.” While I did get into the disgusting water, the disgusting water didn’t get in me. I think there’s another sermon there.
The outside metal furniture is painted and looks awesome. The deck is cleaned. Ten yards of mulch are sitting at the end of our driveway, ready to be placed around our landscaping, once we re-edge everything. The flowers are planted. We are almost done with this year’s “spring cleanup” and ready to enjoy summer. What seemed overwhelming, now seems doable. In your life, what do you need to “spring clean” so you can enjoy what’s next? It may take some focus, it may take some time, and it will certainly mess with your emotions and be work, BUT the reward is sweet. Don’t wait.
Looking forward to a great summer!