Clean My Desk

How can I love God? I can’t even keep my desk clean. My wife is always on me to clean my desk and office—all to no avail. She will refresh things when I am not around to motivate me, hoping I’ll see the value of a clean desk. She even buys things that will organize the office. If the truth were known, she might be enabling my poor behavior. I don’t know why I am so disorganized. I like a clean desk; it certainly makes getting tasks done easier. I don’t seem to get around to cleaning it. To justify my mess and lack of discipline, I’ve turned to sayings that diminish my poor behavior, like, “It’s better to have a messy desk than a messy mind.” Or, as Albert Einstein put it; “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?” Einstein’s towering intellect has made him a household name, but have you ever seen his desk? That’s it at the beginning of the paper. It was photographed just after he died. What is it about my character that allows me to neglect my desk? Whatever it is, it carries over to my inability to be loyal to God. I don’t think I will ever succeed in keeping my desk clean. I am just fortunate to have a wife who covers my failings. In a way, Jesus does the same thing (because I lack loyalty to God). I probably need to explain that. Like my wife, who steps in and transforms my office, Jesus steps in and offers to clean up my mess. By mess, I am not referring to addictions, murder, and the like, but that can be included. Most people are messed up in traditional ways. That’s true of both religious and non-religious people. By messed up, I mean people dismiss the essential things and replace them with less significant pursuits. For example, God’s way of doing things is often replaced with doing it my way. God made His standard clear to Israel when he said; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength.” Just as God has His standards, I have standards, too; I want the dishes I use to be clean. That does not mean I put my dirty dishes on the floor and have the dog lick them clean. Although they may appear clean, they are not by my standards. God also has standards. Notice that God’s requirements begin on the inside. Focusing on a person’s “heart” and “soul.” Whatever captivates a person’s heart and soul is expressed in their behavior. Most people approach religion backward. They focus on behavior by doing something that they think is religious. They often skip the heart and soul part. That’s a mistake. Actions will always reflect what’s going on inside. Oh, I don’t mean to imply you can’t fake it for a while, but given enough time, people will revert to who they are on the inside. When you love something, it consumes everything about you, including your time, finances, relationships, and energy. That’s the standard God established in being loyal to him. Jesus endorsed God’s instruction to Israel. “One day, an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Right! Jesus told him. Do this, and you will live!’” (Luke 10: 25- 28) I don’t know about you, but I come up short no matter how I try. I don’t love God with all my heart and soul. I can’t imagine someone who is 100% committed to God. By that, I mean their loyalty to God is expressed by their actions and is evident to those around them. I am not implying that people don’t say they love God or try to. Yet, in the end, they fail, and their life reveals what’s important to them. In contrast, God always starts on the inside with the heart or soul. Everybody knows words and actions are different. A person may aspire to that kind of life, but if they admit it, they fail. Trying to be committed to God’s standard leaves me feeling hopeless. Who could love God with all their heart, mind, and strength? It’s an impossible standard. Fortunately, I met someone who took the time to explain what God did for people like me. They encouraged me first by saying I was right about God’s standard. “ God expects a person’s loyalty.” Loyalty to God means a person is committed to God’s program and concerns. They went on to show that Jesus was the only one who lived up to that lofty bar. Note some of the Biblical statements about him.“I have come to do the Father’s will.” “He was obedient even to death.” These are only two of many statements which affirm his allegiance to God the Father. I immediately thought, “Good for him, but what good is that to me?” Without missing a beat, they explained that Jesus’ allegiance to God could somehow be transferred to anyone who would become His follower. The apostle Paul put it this way, “He [God] has made him be sin that we may be the rightness of God in him.” You could look at it this way; during the Covid Pandemic, a person fell behind on their house payments, and the bank was preparing to foreclose on their house. In the nick of time, someone went to the bank and paid off the house in full. As far as the bank is concerned, the delinquent payment is cleared up, and the people owe nothing. The home is now free and clear, not because of something the owners did but because someone stepped in to solve their housing problem. An anonymous friend paid it off. That’s what Jesus did. He paid the price for a person’s lack of allegiance to God. He lived in total obedience to God the Father. He fulfilled God’s requirement that, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength.” He did what I could not. Jesus lived a life with total allegiance to the Father. Because of him, the standard that God required was met. Of course, a person must receive this payment just as the person behind their mortgage must accept payment. A person shows acceptance by living in compliance with God’s direction as best as possible; even though a person falls short of absolute obedience, God focuses on their heart, not their skill. God told the prophet Samuel, “Man looks on the outward appearance; God looks on the heart.” Jesus put it this way, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (John 14:21) That reminds me, I must show my wife how much I appreciate a clean desk.— I’ll get her some Stargazers—her favorite flowers.