The creaking went on so long that I grew accustomed to it. Creaking when I climbed the steps to my home, creaking when I walked down them to leave. Two wobbly steps and a predictable creaking greeted me every single day for a couple of months.
Each time I heard the familiar sound, I remembered my general irritation with my condo and made a mental note to put in a maintenance request with my Homeowners’ Association. Yet minutes later, I always moved on to the next thing without taking action.
Then I noticed something funky happening with a small piece of my roof. Additional annoyance, another mental note, and further procrastination.
The final straw was a blown light outside my front door. With my issues growing by the day, I had no choice but to make the call. After rattling off my list to an employee, I wondered how long it would take them to fix what I waited months to bring to their attention.
As I considered the joys of homeownership, I realized that sometimes we experience similar problems when it comes to our faith. We make mental notes and silent complaints about the things in our lives that need fixing, but we never officially take it to God.
During a May 5th interview on Another Round podcast, writer Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah recounted the time she asked singer Erykah Badu for life advice. Erykah told her, “Just keep your altar updated. Anything you don’t want in your life, put it on your altar, and all the things you do want in your life, put it on your altar. Just keep that altar updated.”
Unfortunately, I’m not good at updating my altar. I think about a million things a day, but that doesn’t mean they make it to the altar. I also talk to God numerous times throughout the day, but sometimes the things of greatest concern to me don’t always make it to the altar. There are wobbly, creaky issues that I put off because they involve a sore subject that I don’t feel like talking about, or because I have yet to admit to myself whether I do or do not want certain things in my life, or because I am positive that God already knows and doesn’t need me to tell Him, or simply because I mentioned it a while ago and don’t want to bring it up again. But how can I expect God to make it a priority to resolve them when I have not made it a priority to lay them on the altar?
James 4:2-3 (New Living Translation) says, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle, bustle, and confusion of life. However, God wants us to bring every little and big thing to Him. He wants us to maintain an updated altar, adding on each issue as it comes up, rather than waiting to make one major request when our messes have piled up and become too much to ignore. He wants us to ask so that we might receive, or at least learn during our time with Him that our motives are wrong. He wants us to update our altars as much as we update our Instagram accounts, Facebook statuses, and Twitter timelines, as much as we update our blog content, and the contents of our refrigerators.
Truthfully, we, too, want to keep our altars updated. We want our lives to have the type of focus that accompanies an updated altar. We want to release the squeaky worry, fear, and doubt that nag the areas of our lives that have not been added to the altar. We want our wobbly faith to be secured. We want the peace that comes with knowing our all is on the altar – not last month’s issues or even last night’s, but those that are relevant to our present moment.
The other day I noticed that there was no creaking as I climbed my stairs in the evening. The maintenance crew had begun their repairs, giving me more confidence in their work. Slowly, incrementally, change was coming.
When your altar is updated, you can expect God to deal with your issues. You can rest in the knowledge that He knows and that change will come eventually. And as He deals with each issue, your confidence In Him will grow.
Get real with yourself and with God today and every day. What needs fixing? What do you want in your life? What things do you need removed? Word to Erykah, update your altar.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area.
A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.