Have you tackled the task of cleaning out closets when loved ones passed away or children left you with an empty nest? Cleaning out closets rarely ranks high on people’s ‘to do’ lists. Yet, blessings can come when the burdensome task is done.
In January of 2011, the door opened at Tim’s Gift and a handsome, humble gentleman walked into my life. Of course, I did not know he would become my husband in January of 2013, but God’s plans were already in place for our lives just as they are for yours. The choices we make can help or hinder those divine plans from happening. Moses can testify to that. Leading the Israelites to the promised land was in God’s plan for Moses, but it took 40 years instead of 15 days due to poor choices and lack of faith. The people had to clean out their hearts’ closets and get right with God in order to receive His blessing.
Choosing to move forward in faith with a hurting heart and world that has been turned upside down, for one reason or another, can keep one locked in a closet of sadness. Christ centered living is the key to fulfillment. Keeping God our first love, loving and doing unto others as we would want them to do unto us, while trusting and obeying, can keep the closets of our hearts clean as a whistle.
The first time James Vann came to Tim’s Gift, we introduced ourselves and sat down at the prayer table to talk. James told me someone recommended that he come to Tim’s Gift for help with grief after his wife, Sarah, passed away in June of 2009. I listened as James shared his devoted love for Sarah and difficulty living without her in his life. I told James how much Tim and I loved one another and how hard it was to smile again or even look forward to anything again after he was called Home to Heaven. We talked openly and honestly about dealing with death. He told of his pain seeing her pretty clothes hanging in their closet. I told him about cleaning out our closet, of giving Tim’s clothes to people and saving special tee shirts to make a quilt for our sons. I encouraged him to find someone special to give some of Sarah’s clothes to, for in giving we receive. Then, we prayed. James shook my hand, thanked me, and walked out the door as quickly as he had entered.
Surely, someone reading this story relates to the sting of death and pain of going forth in faith while facing tasks like cleaning out closets, keeping house and yards in order, and eating meals alone. Adjusting to life here when a loved one leaves is hard. Helping people get through the process is a duty we should embrace with gentle, loving care.
The second time James came to Tim’s Gift, he entered the door smiling and asked for a few minutes of my time. I was happy to see him and eager to hear his good news. He shared about cleaning out one section of Sarah’s closet, neatly packing dresses and pant suits in a box, and taking them to a precious little lady who worked with him. A few weeks after his generous giving, the lady shared her gratitude for receiving Sarah’s beautiful clothes and how special she felt going to church wearing them. James had made the first step of cleaning out the closet in his home…and in his heart.
His words still ring joy in my heart, “You were right Becky. It feels so good to give and bless someone else’s life.”
Actually James was the one who was right (most of the time anyway)! He loved doing things right, treating people right, living right, loving right, even saying, “I’m right” with conviction and cleverness that drew me close to him even before I knew my heart could love again.
In this story about closet #2, I could never pen the precious love that bloomed and beautiful blessing God bestowed upon James and me, per His plans. The chapters of our love story are stored in my heart’s closet with hopes of releasing them in God’s perfect timing. The calling to write a book called New Beginnings or Love You More that shares our story stirs strong. My prayer is to write this book to glorify God for helping His children clean out closets, deal with death, divorce, desolate places, and embrace new beginnings while LOVING HIM (and them – whomever He sends) MORE! James’ big heart (to love and look after those he loved and people he did not know), inspired the desire to share love stories that can bring people closer to the Lord and to the ones He gives us to love and cherish.
As I pray about writing this book and other decisions facing me in the sunset years of my life, I pray for you also. I am grateful to many readers who send prayer requests in letters and calls each week. Our duty really is to love one another, to pray and encourage one another, and to be a help meet as God shares in Genesis. I am humbled to pray for people, especially those stuck in closets that can keep them from enjoying the precious plans God has for their lives. With God, all things really are possible. Yet, we must believe and move forth in faith. Then, our heavenly Father can make miracles from our messes.
Are you stuck in a closet that keeps you going ‘round and round’ with little hope of things changing in your circumstances? God is with you. He never leaves His children, even when we leave Him. He can turn things around and fill our lives with love and joy. I pray for you – God knows who needs this prayer. I pray for our state, our nation, our world – where many people (even those in leadership) are stuck in closets with ears closed to Christ’s calling and God’s Word and ways. They (we) need to turn their (our) eyes upon Jesus. He holds the key!
I made a promise to share closet story #2! Please read next week’s column with the rest of the story coming from Him to me to you.
Becky Spell-Vann is owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.