James Clear writes about the practice of “resetting a room” in his book “Atomic Habits.” He claims you can make good habits easier by setting up your environment – like keeping chopped fruits and veggies in to-go containers if you’re trying to eat healthier, or keeping a notebook and pen within easy reach if you want to write more.
I discovered the wisdom in this when I realized that I was more likely to work out in the morning if I set out my workout clothes the night before. I even found myself setting up the living room to make more space for my yoga practice, moving a rocking chair out of the way before I went to bed each night. I use this principle to make weekday mornings go more smoothly: I pack my boys’ lunches and set out their backpacks the night before, refill water bottles and program the coffee maker before the end of the day.
In his book, Clear says: “Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make the next action easy.”
Lately, I find myself wondering if I can prime my soul space as well. If the intended purpose of my soul is to be in communion with God, to love him and others fully, then how can I prime my spiritual space for this?
I’m reminded of a play I saw years ago in church. It was based on a little booklet written by Robert Boyd Munger, a Presbyterian minister. In the story, “My Heart – Christ’s Home,” a man invites Jesus to move into the home of his heart, leading Christ on a tour. As he goes room by room, he learns that although he wants the presence of God in his life, the rooms of his soul may not be in optimal condition to welcome him.
In the dining room, he is confronted by the appetites controlling him. In the recreation room, he is faced with entertainment that does not honor God. In the living room, he has neglected to spend time with Jesus daily. The workroom is where he uses his talents and skills to serve God by serving others, and he is reminded that when he lets God’s spirit work through his hands and heart, his efforts are more effective. The locked hall closet is where he has kept things from his old life that he is unwilling to surrender to God. Jesus, in his mercy, throws out what’s rotting in there and cleans it up as good as new.
At the end of the story, the man realizes how much heavy responsibility it is to keep the rooms of his heart welcoming to Christ. Jesus agrees: “You cannot be a victorious Christian in your own strength.” And the man gratefully signs over the title deed of his spiritual house to God.
How can we reset the rooms of our souls? How can we prime our soul space for its intended purpose?
Here are five suggestions:
Silence and solitude.
We start by quieting the noise and distractions around us. We get away long enough to tune into God’s frequency. We still and slow our internal and external pace long enough for true reflection.
We start by coming before God with a humble acknowledgement of all the ways we fall short. We confess the times when the “cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” have led us astray (Mt. 13:22).
Reflection and confession.
We ask God to reveal to us what is behind our closet doors, what we are refusing to give over to him. We take stock of how we are using our time and resources. We name the anxiety and worry that consumes our thought life. We examine our motives, what lies behind our ambition, our drive, our hustle. We take a closer look at what our actions say about our beliefs. We lay our souls bare before him. We ask Jesus, who loves us fiercely, to be master of the house.
Handing Jesus the title deed of our souls takes trust. It takes faith to believe that his yoke is lighter than ours, and his ways are higher than ours. When we invite him to be the master of our house, we are trusting him with all that we have, with faith in his goodness and love.
We move forward in a posture of worship. Paul Richardson said that “worship is time spent in active awareness of the presence of God.” God sent his Holy Spirit to be present with us always. Priming our soul space means shifting our focus to the movement of God in our everyday lives, and worship is acting out of that awareness.