I was in the kitchen this morning and heard a noise that sounded like Duplos being dumped out-- and I knew there were already little Legos all over the rug. Fortunately for today, the noise was just another toy being moved and we didn't have a huge mess to pick up (or a "big and big and big" mess, as the boys say to mean gigantic).

But I started thinking about all the other times that we've had every toy bin dumped out at once, plus a bunch of blankets out (remnants of forts). It's overwhelming and my boys are way too young for me to just say, "Pick all this up!" They help, but it's too much for them on their own. And even with help, they need really specific directions. We tend to work from biggest to smallest category and only work on one toy group at a time. I imagine that many of you straighten up this way (stuffed animals, then cars, then plastic animals, then Legos, etc).

It struck me that God sort of cleans me up like this. When my heart was drawn to Him, I'd sort of thrown everything out on the floor. I was, as we often say, a mess.

And it's the big things that go first. For me, that was self-injury and porn. Big stuff. The obvious, dangerous, "trip over this toy in the dark and you break an arm" kind of stuff.

Then it's on to the little things. And while the big stuff tends to require a lot of energy and real effort to get rid of, it's the smaller stuff I resist changing.

When God starts wanting to prune out EVERYTHING that doesn't bear fruit, every little dead twig, I balk. I did it this weekend with a book I just knew I shouldn't start and because I could find ways to justify it, I kept reading, and it consumed me. It separated me, if not from the fact of God, from the peace of God in my spirit. And that's a terrible thing. The presence of God is something I treasure, something that is precious and vital to me. I, and everyone around me, suffers when I'm cutting myself off from that through disobedience.

There's a temptation when cleaning up a playroom at night to just leave some of it for the morning. To pick up the big stuff, shove the little pieces out of the middle of the floor (or into the middle in a pile, haha) and go to bed. Maybe, on a practical level, one of the better arguments for cleaning up before dinner? But while big things are legitimately dangerous, we shouldn't let the obvious dangers discount the real pain in neglecting the little stuff. And if you step on them unawares, those little Lego pieces (or tiny Barbie shoes) hurt like hell.

This isn't a call to feel overwhelmed by the mess. God, like a good parent, will offer help and wise direction in cleaning it up. He loves us. He wants us to be at peace and secure in Him. But this is a call to stop reasoning away the little bits of mess. This is a call to stop justifying your neglect of those tiny toys that litter the floor when He's nudging your spirit with the command to just put it away.

Maybe it's not a sin for somebody else. Maybe it's a sin for everyone. Maybe it's gossip. Maybe it's gluttony. Maybe it's reading that book that is permissible but not beneficial for you right now. Put it away.

The boys and I have been reading "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence (that's the copy we have, but you can find it online for free legally). For them, it's just practice sitting and listening to something without pictures, but it's so good for me to be reading. Today, this was in the section we read (emphasis mine):

Spending time in God's presence doesn't weaken the body. Leaving the seemingly innocent and permissible pleasures of the world for a time will, on the contrary, give us comfort. In fact, God won't allow a soul that is searching for Him to be comforted anywhere other than with Him.
-Third Letter, "The Practice of the Presence of God "

This can be time you spend in God's presence while you work. While you eat. While you drive. But it must be intentional. Things that remove you, as my book did for me, from your ability to come before God in your heart are a problem. Stuff left on the floor in the middle of the night, just waiting for you to step on in the morning and leave you with a sore foot for the day, is a problem.

Maybe you're a point right now where your battles are obvious. Maybe they're struggles that take a lot of your energy and you are daily, hourly, falling on God's grace and it's taking all you've got to just hang on while He cleans up the big stuff. That's okay. I'd say to you, don't sweat the small stuff. God will deal with it when He deals with it. 

But some of us? Maybe we need to stop acting like our battle days are behind us. Maybe some of us should be sweating the small stuff. I know, I know we don't earn our salvation. But my heart is "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." We must make an effort to remember what is good, what is true, where our peace comes from and where our hope lies. 

What are you dealing with right now? What "little toys" is God telling you to pick up today?