Every year when the weather people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area announce the first serious tornado watch of the season, I scurry to my walk -in closet because it is the innermost area in our home without windows. I take my laptop with me, so I can watch the live weather updates. And, then I start to clean my closet. Every. Single. Year.
I pick the clothes up off the floor. I match my shoes and put them on a rack. Clothing tags, old receipts, and materials that have come in shipping boxes go in a trash bag. I gather the remnants of wrapping paper, of both the Christmas and birthday variety. I replace the errant coat hangers on the rods. I organize the various tote bags I’ve collected over the course of the last twelve months.
Once there was a tornado warning that went into effect right as the school day was ending. I cleaned frantically even though I was home by myself. The kids were at their various schools on lock down because they didn’t want parents of children on the roads. Ben was driving home to beat the weather, but it was coming faster than expected. He was virtually outrunning it as he traveled north. On that day, I was anxious about the safety of my people, and the cleaning gave me an outlet for my nervous energy.
But most of the time, I have to clean so the family can manage to get in the closet with me. The upside of having a large closet is that a lot of people can fit. I’ve had our family of six plus the two large dogs crammed inside. My parents had to go in there with us once. The downside is that a lot of material stuff can fit in the closet as well – a lot of which ends up on the floor. My organization-freak friends are hyperventilating as they read this confession.
I know that if I’d only taken a minute to put my things away each and every time, I could minimize the mess I always find myself in as bad weather approaches. Instead of hurriedly throwing my shoes haphazardly in the closet or leaving the hangers in the floor when they fall, I could easily keep things neat and tidy and maintain order on a daily basis. But I’ve never gotten in the habit of keeping my closet clean.
I wonder if sometimes we act the same way with God. When we have a predicament in our lives, we tend to pray with increased fervor. We plead for God’s help and rescue in dealing with serious troubles or facing difficult challenges. And that is to be expected. When things are not going right, we need to seek God’s help. God wants us to come to him in crisis.
When we haven’t been in regular communication with God for a while prior to the anxiety producing difficulties though, most of us also experience a certain amount of guilt. We feel sheepish in approaching God. It’s as if he is a long distance relative instead of a well-known loved one.
Our relationship with God will grow and deepen when we spend time with God in prayer, study, service, and worship. Investing time is necessary in order to have a healthy, intimate relationship with God. Not so that he grants our wishes when we find ourselves in dire times, but so that we have a better understanding of his loving nature. So that he is not a stranger when we call on him for comfort, calm, and peace. By developing a pattern of interacting with God on a regular basis, we won’t hesitate to talk to him during the hard times.
If we make prayer a habit, then when a storm is looming, we won’t feel as though we must fix everything before we come to God. God doesn’t need us to have neat and tidy lives before we talk to him. And if we talk to him consistently, we’ll have already revealed everything to him.
Approaching God can be easier in the hard times when we feel that God wants to take care of us, and we might even be able to encourage others to do the same. To show them how God is a refuge when they need help. When we maintain our relationship with God, we won’t unnecessarily scramble to clean up the messiness of our lives before we take shelter in his love.