My screen is taken over by the notification centered in the middle of the monitor: “Your startup disk is almost full. To make more space available on your startup disk, delete some files.”

Why? Because I’m using my trash can as another storage device by default.

Here’s what happens: I’m happily working away on my computer, writing or editing photos. I backup to external hard drives, then decide to clean up the files. Unneeded photos, documents, presentations, and downloads get sent to the trash can.

All taken care of, right? Not exactly. When something is transferred to the Trash Can on a Mac or the Recycle Bin on a PC, it sits there until it is emptied.

One must actually select “Empty Trash” or “Empty Recycle Bin” to free up the space.

Take out the Trash

This happens in the analog world, too. All the smelly and unwanted garbage goes into the kitchen and bathroom trash cans. But someone has to take the trash out. Someone has to put the trash at the curb on garbage day. You actually have to empty the trash.

I wonder if we do that in our spiritual lives as well. I can whine and groan all I want to about things weighing me down. I can rearrange my life and say that I’m going to do things differently. I can talk about how I struggle with something (let’s call it what it is: sin) until I’m blue in the face. But until I do the good and hard work of identification, confession, and change, nothing at all is going to shift. This is repentance, is it not? Agreeing with God about what His Word declares, admitting where I have diverged from His good standard, asking for forgiveness, and changing my behavior through His empowerment.

I can’t just put the sin in the proverbial trash can. It has to be emptied.

Sort the Trash

Of course, not everything belongs in a landfill. We sort out the recyclables. These items must be taken out to the curb too. (Hooray for an 8-year-old who can finally move the bulky containers all by himself!)

We earmark things for giveaway or donation. In our garage, we have a pile of things collected for this purpose. But the things are still in our house, still a part of what we own, until I take the step of dropping them off or giving them away. If that final step isn’t taken, everything is still there, adding to the clutter.

Keep the Good Stuff

If logic holds, anything left over after sorting the recyclables and taking out the trash and donating or giving away is worth keeping. And if it’s not worth keeping, what is it doing taking up space?

So everything left over is “the good stuff.” Things for life, things that bring joy, things that provide protection.

So here is a question for us to ponder as we launch into our next day: Do I have some trash that needs to be kicked to the curb? Naming it as trash is the first and very necessary step. Confession is putting it into the trash can. And a change of behavior is kicking it to the curb.

Are there things in my life that would be better removed? Removed not because they’re not good things, but because they’re taking up space that could be better allocated somewhere else. If I am presently engaged in one thing, I am automatically disengaged in a thousand others. Is the one thing I’m doing right now the thing God has for me in this moment? Or am I missing out on a greater calling because I’m so busy rearranging the furniture? Anything, however good, that keeps me from doing the best is a cheap substitute for purpose. And if we take our recycling analogy a bit further, we could posit that my hanging on to “extra stuff” keeps someone else from stepping into the ministry God has for them. Both visible and hidden clutter take their toll.

Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. —Hudson Taylor

God has given each person throughout history the same number of hours in every day. Therefore, we can have confidence that He will not expect us to fill it with more than 24 hours’ worth of distance run. And wise rest and healthy living factor into those 24 hours as well, don’t they?

Perhaps that’s a little bit about what the writer of Hebrews was talking about: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

So how about you, friend? Want to join me in a bit of spiritual decluttering? Let’s take out the trash together.