Slay the Beast, Unclutter Your Life

Just Do It!
     “Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.” Action words, right?

     I choose these words everyday because David Allen told me I had too many “non-action words” on my action list and passive words like these don’t help your brain, they just make you scratch your head in wonder. Words like “Mom” and “Bicknell Project” can’t really be “done” because they’re not discrete actions that can be completed. They’re just categories that need to be broken down into a list of “doable” steps. Bookmark that thought. We’ll come back to it.

Ever have 1,100+ emails in
your inbox?  Beastly.

Meet the Beast
     A few years ago, I looked at my inbox and it had over 1,100 items in it and I would nearly get a headache just looking at the computer screen because… well, where do you start with 1,100 emails? My inbox extended probably 50 screen lengths and had become a woeful Beast that would stare me down from the moment I fired up my computer.

     Since I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD), I’ve been able to get my inbox to empty two to three times a week. Caveat: “been able to” and “have done” are definitely two different matters. But, I can recall uttering the words “free at last” more than once over these years, simply because I knew the impossible could be done, and I’d seen it happen at least once myself.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
GTD, by David Allen, a field manual
for slaying the beast at work, not for
abiding in Christ.

    Today, I have Microsoft Outlook’s rules automatically re-route 80% of my incoming mail into reliable, categorized folders, keeping my inbox nearly clutter-free and with less than 40 items in my inbox at all times. Can you imagine the freedom I feel every time I sit down at my inbox to see that it’s less than one screen long? The Beast is, at long last, dead!

Same Beast, Different Face
     When I first grasped the concept of what sin really is and the fact that I could sin in my mind without taking any external {Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.} action, I could hear the familiar snarl of the email beast echo through my head. Suddenly, I realized that my average day was filled with far more sin than I’d ever considered. It was as if I was being brutally Spammed in my inbox… my “sinbox” was well over 1,100… million.

Word Problems, Again?
     Over the years, I’ve also realized there’s an enemy of God out there –  a deceiver, liar, and accuser – who knows that when I recognize my sin my natural propensity is to become overwhelmed by the massive clutter in my inbox. It’s usually spam in the form of guilt, shame, and condemnation. Sometimes, it’s even accompanied by a self written email like “Idiot! You know better!” Yet, Jesus is there, always, telling me to abide, to remain in Him. Now, “abide” and “remain” don’t really fit well on my “action words” list. It’s one of those words that makes you scratch your head in wonder. So, how does that work?

     Jesus gives us a key to reconciling this problem in John 14:16-17, Jesus reminds us that abiding is such an impossible task that He’s going to send the Holy Spirit to help us do it. In other words, it can’t be “done” because it’s not an item that can be completed. Instead, I want to encourage you today with a word that doesn’t appear in this passage – “reconnect”. It’s a simple word that in my GTD world means “get back on the wagon”. In Jesus’ terms it means – “get back into the vine”.

Refresh/reconnect – The key
to “abiding in Christ”.

    Sin is the natural result of disconnecting from the “vine” (read John 15). If we ever spent a day fully connected to Christ, truly abiding, two things are certain: 1) we’d never want to disconnect again and 2) we’d be so filled with pride that we’d immediately disconnect (1 John 1:8). Truly, it can’t be done… apart from the Spirit. Because of the cross, the beast is already slain. If we can, by the Spirit rather than by our own effort, wrap our heads around that concept, there is a freedom greater than any empty inbox can bring waiting in the next heartbeat.

Be Encouraged
     Jesus is the original “Getting Things Done” master: the beast is, indeed, dead – sin has been conquered and so have the enemy and the world. With our debt paid in full, our sinbox is clean. The clutter of guilt, condemnation, and shame can be deleted in an instant by simply refreshing our browser. In Christ, by the Spirit, to the glory of the Father, you and I can be clutter free in one keystroke: realign… refresh… reconnect.

Abiding with you,


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