One of my favorite stories about Mark Twain takes place on one of his visits to the Holy Land.
Twain and his wife were staying in Tiberius on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It was a moonlit night, and the weather was perfect, which gave Twain the romantic idea of taking his wife for a boat ride on the lake.
They walked down to the pier, and Twain inquired of a man sitting in a rowboat how much he would charge to row them out on the water. Twain was dressed in his usual white suit, white shoes, and white Texas hat.
The oarsman, presuming him to be a wealthy rancher from the USA, said, “Well, I guess about twenty-five dollars.”
Mark Twain thanked him, and, as he turned away with his wife on his arm, he was heard to exclaim, “Now I know why Jesus walked!”
The truth of the matter is that Jesus walked almost everywhere He went! The only times in the Gospels where Jesus seemed to ride anywhere were when He rode triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday and when He rode across the Sea of Galilee.
The truth of the matter is that Jesus lived and encouraged a fairly unencumbered life.
What was true for Jesus in the first century is a real problem for many in this twenty-first century. We not only get “encumbered” by the things of this world, but we almost seem to glorify the “getting” of the treasures this world has to offer.
There is an old proverb that says that when life is over, “the one who dies with the most toys wins!”
I was prompted to think about this particularly by one of those television psychologists who was dealing with a marriage situation where one of the partners could not throw anything away.
You talk about clutter! There was stuff piled everywhere. If I am not mistaken, the individual could not stand to even throw away the paper wrappers for the hamburgers at the fast-food restaurant!
And the clutter was simply taking over their lives! Everything this family did centered on the fact that they could not move into their own home. There was no place to sit in their home. There was no place to sleep in their home. And to think about eating there was a real adventure!
Everything they did caused them to have to move a stack of something and pile it somewhere on some other stack. This clutter seems to multiply as it stayed in one place for very long!
And after a while of living in this mess, the couple seemed to lose heart and hope in ever getting out of this mess! They did not know where to start and that seemed to defeat any attempt to even take the first step!
Their main comment that struck home with me was, “After you’ve been here a while, you don’t even realize you’re in any sort of mess! You just get used to it!”
As I contemplated this, I could not help but think about the parable that such a situation is for every one of our lives. No matter what sort of situation you and I find ourselves in living in a very materialistic world and wanting to have the latest of every little gadget and all, the fact is that we are all totally engulfed in a world of “stuff”!
We may not even know we are caught in the trap called this world. We live in a sin-infested society and a world that is gone awry. In a word, we live in a mess!
And changing the environment would not change the fact that we live in a mess, because we would make the new environment into the same sort of mess that we currently live in – it is just a part of our nature!
The mess we live in is called, in a word, sin! It has affected every one of us. Sin “encumbers” and “clutters” our lives, making a mess out of everything we attempt to do.
The interesting thing about this “cluttered-up” couple is that when someone else took an interest in helping them get out of the mess, they seemed energized and encouraged to accept that help and allow the decluttering to take place. The same is true for every one of us.
There is Someone who has done everything to help us get out of the sinful mess that we make of our lives. His name is Jesus! He came out of a perfect heaven into this mess called earth, and lived and died so He could clean it up for all to enjoy!
Jesus does not declutter where He is not invited, and will not force Himself into our lives. We must ask for His help!
Mark Twain thought Jesus walked because He was cheap! The fact is that He walked because He knew how to live life on earth without all the clutter that encumbers us!
He challenges you and me to de-clutter our lives by re-newing our relationship with Him today!
Won’t you de-clutter your life today?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected] .