“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!”—Isaiah 26:3 (TLB).

Newspaper clippings, expired coupons, small appliance instructions—what a mess.

I’d stuffed them in a drawer, along with other odds and ends I’d not taken the time to sort through. For some reason, I felt compelled on a recent morning to do some decluttering.

When I finished with the catch-all drawer in my dining area, I decided to start on another area of the house. After a few hours, I had rid myself of unnecessary things and organized drawers and closets. 

In the process of decluttering, I thought about the spiritual aspect of tossing the unneeded. We hang onto things, like those stuffed in my drawer, because we can’t seem to let go.

True, some of those things may have value, but for the most part they pile up, leaving us overwhelmed. What should we let go of and what do we keep? What if we need that item/article someday?

Letting go is one of the most difficult things to do, and I’m not just talking about possessions.

While it’s easy to hold onto things, letting go of past mistakes, hurts, relationships, fears, guilt, anger, failures, regrets, sin and worry is much harder. However, it’s easier when we accept God is in control. 

American evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”

But, like those things we stash in drawers and closets, we desire to be in control. It’s human nature. Need to forgive someone? No way, you say. How can I forgive someone who hurt, embarrassed or abandoned me? 

We can’t. Not without God’s help. It may hurt to let go, but sometimes it hurts us more to hold onto the past.

As Christian theologian C.S. Lewis said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

Until we let go of the past, we can’t move forward to the open door God has prepared for our future. Hanging onto anything that clutters our minds distracts us from His will.

Hanging onto the past will also distract from what is right in front of us. We can’t be open to what God has in store for us when our focus is on the clutter. Isaiah 43:18 says, “But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.”

What can God do in our lives? He can use those things and people in our past to draw us closer to Him, to trust Him to use them for our good. How can anything good come from the pain of our past? It can when we approach the throne of grace with confidence where we receive mercy to help with our cluttered past.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come and the old has gone.”

Don’t stuff away a painful past. Let God declutter it.

Round is a former Jay High School instructor who now resides in Grove. In addition to writing a weekly faith-based column, “A Matter of Faith,” Round spends time with her grandchildren, shooting photos, hiking, working in her yard, reading and studying the Word, volunteering at her church and going on mission trips. For more information, or to contact Round, persons interested may contact her at carol@carolaround.com.