Most mornings we spend an hour tidying up: putting away dishes, making beds, kickstarting the laundry, and decluttering. It’s never perfect – and that’s perfectly okay! But I’m amazed at the difference in our ability to move through the day when the house is in order rather than cluttered and chaotic.

One day, I moved through the living room, duster in hand, and realized I couldn’t even dust completely because of all the clutter that had accumulated. Paperwork, a small box, some pictures, dead batteries, and other random, little things had taken over.

And, finally, these spots bothered me. They’d been accumulating for weeks, but I reached a point where I couldn’t bear them any longer. If I had dealt with them a little each day, they wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand. But I’d ignored them, and, in that neglect, they took over what otherwise would’ve been a beautiful space in our home.

As I cleared and tossed and shredded and sorted, I realized that I’ve let my soul get cluttered lately. I haven’t been diligent each day to strip off those things weighing me down, those things hindering my effectiveness or joy or purpose.

Those things like quick forgiveness…and handing my hurts over to God…and loneliness…and worry…and anger.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1b

My word for 2016: Press. Press into the moment and the Presence of God. Press on past the excuses I’ve made. Press out worship like an offering of fragrant oil.

This pressing is bringing me into the Presence of God. And it’s requiring of me an awareness and willingness to lay aside those things weighing me down. Like ornaments of the Israelites when they worshiped a golden calf. The calf, which was not merely idolatry. The calf, which expressed how little the Israelites knew of the reality of God. Moses had come face to face with the Great I AM and knew best Who He is. The people formed their own suppositions and came up with a false image of God, based on their preconceptions founded in their idolatrous upbringing in Egypt.

How have we formed our own false images?

After the golden calf came the stripping. At first, they merely laid aside their ornaments. But God commanded that they be cast away. Removed completely. Not just tucked away to be put back on later. But mercilessly stripped away. This stripping away…it requires recognizing the weight that slows us down and the sin that clings, entangles, and trips us up.

God’s Presence moved in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. But, before they could be ready to follow God’s Presence any further, the Israelites had to remove their ornaments, stripping away the weights they wore.

If I want to be ready to stay with His moving Presence, I must be stripped down, ready to move freely. I have to be willing to ask myself the sometimes difficult questions: What is weighing me down? What’s tripping me up? Am I willing to release it so I can follow God’s Presence more closely?

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