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Posts Tagged ‘hoarding’

Jo 12There I was, standing as directed in the loooong queue of shoppers spaced one trolley apart in our local supermarket. It was all very orderly—although everyone looked a little glum. So I decided to chat to the lady behind me and she began telling me all sorts of things about herself.

Then I realised I should text my husband—and, as I did, a daily bible verse ‘pinged’ onto my phone. Now at first, I thought I would keep that verse to myself. After all, I had no idea where this lady behind me was coming from in matters of faith. But then I felt convicted. Here we were, with time to chat. Here we all were, down to the basics in our lives, with so much we rely on in all sorts of ways for our wellbeing no longer available. And here I was, not perfect by any means, yet secure in God and so grateful for the firm foundation I have in my life because of Jesus Christ. So I decided to risk it and share my verse with that lady.

‘Well, here’s a bible verse that might encourage you!’ I said—and proceeded to read it out.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

She looked a little surprised, but then laughed. ‘Hmm—but not toilet paper!’

I laughed too—after all, what else could I do? I suspect, judging from other serious things she told me, that she was masking her real feelings via humour. But I left it at that. And who knows whether she might reflect on my verse at another time?

Finally, I made it to the front of the store and saw a staff member beckon me to a checkout. But just then, another lady appeared out of nowhere and forged ahead of me to that same checkout—so all I could do was slink back to my spot!

‘Did someone push in?’ a staff member then asked me in a shocked voice.

YES!!!’ at least ten people in the queue behind me immediately yelled out.

‘It was the lady in the pink jumper!’ someone added loudly, as the staff member scuttled to find her.

At that point, I felt relieved I had been saved from accusing anyone or causing a scene—especially after sharing a bible verse with the lady behind me! In the end, I suggested to her that maybe this queue jumper truly had thought she was the one being beckoned forward. Or maybe she panicked or was unwell.

‘No, no! I’ve seen her do shonky things before in this store!’ she told me in an irate voice.

Yes, maybe I am naïve, as someone said to me later when I shared my interesting experience with her. And maybe, as I am often told, I constantly try to think of too many excuses for others’ behaviour. But I do know one thing for sure. All of us in that store that morning needed reassurance that God is still in charge. We don’t have to panic. We don’t have to push in. We don’t have to accuse. Instead, we can choose to be at peace and to trust God who has indeed promised to meet all our needs.

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Our house is quite small. As someone once put it when visiting, ‘It’s a nice little cottage!’ So, over the years, we have tried to get rid of unnecessary or unwanted clutter. This applies to everything we own—well, almost everything. Of course, books are the exception.

P1040041This past week, I nevertheless decided to pare down one or two of the bookshelves in our house. I picked up some volumes I had read recently—but no, I could not throw those out. You see, I know the authors. And, being an author myself, I could not consign their books to some throw-out pile. Far better to take them to a second hand bookstore where others might read them as well, if I had no room for them. So back on those shelves they went for the moment.

I began pulling out other books lower down on those crammed shelves. Some were textbooks from my years at theological college. Others dealt with church issues I was passionate about at one stage but no longer am—at least not so much. Some even went back to my earlier years as a Christian—large volumes I treasured then, now too outdated to refer to often, if at all. Yet I found myself loath to throw them out because they hold so many memories for me of key periods of my life when I was growinP1040044g and learning and trying to come to grips with so many matters of faith.

In another room, I unearthed some old language learning books of mine—Japanese, German and even Classical Greek textbooks of little use to any student now since they are so outdated. I stopped for a moment to reflect on the hours and hours of effort put into studying these. And again, because they represent such key parts of my life, I did not have the heart to throw them out.

Putting these back, I then progressed to another set of book shelves. Here I found books dating back not only to our children’s growing up years but also to my own—favourites such as Anne of Green Gables, What Katy Did, Little Women and many others. How could I possibly throw those out? Perhaps our grandchildren will read them one day. Yet the pages are so yP1040042ellowed and the print so small. And all those long sentences and unfamiliar words …

I am aware January is often the month when nostalgic and even somewhat depressive thoughts can take hold as we get to clear out the clutter of the past. Yet, while acknowledging these feelings, I also found myself reflecting on God’s faithfulness through all those periods of my life those books represent. While my faith may well have waxed and waned, according to the pressures of life or my own wilfulness, God has watched over me, steering me through it all.

Those books are only things—I cannot take them with me when I die. And the memories they invoke in me will no doubt fade in the years ahead. But that faithfulness of God they represent to me will never, ever end. And I am so thankful.

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117

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I don’t regard myself as a hoarder at all. In the earlier years of our marriage, we moved several times and were careful with each move to throw out things we felt we didn’t need to hold onto. Then when we finally bought our own home, we had to pare things down even more, since we had three children to fit into a very small house.

Now, thirty years on, we still live in that same house, although the children have moved out. Yet I continue to be careful not to hold onto unnecessary clutter. After all, we have to make room now for such items as strollers and car seats for the grandchildren! But what of all those books everywhere? And what of that chest of drawers in our bedroom, bulging with a crazy mix of old jewellery, overseas coins, school and music certificates, cards with precious greetings or encouraging words inside them, grandchildren’s drawings and other intriguing objects?

Recently, I lent more of those precious books on my shelves to some friends. Yes, I do keep a record of such things, but in the process of adding to this list, I noticed some books have been out there for quite a while. Then I remembered one from past years that has long gone, never to return. It was quite expensive—and I began to feel a little resentful. How dare someone lose track of something that is mine? I loved that book. I want it back! But then I began to laugh at myself. I know the person to whom I lent it well and respect him. I would gladly give him the monetary value of that book any time. So why am I so bothered by losing something that is just a thing, after all?

But last week, I faced an even bigger test. Having cleaned out one of those bedroom drawers, I decided to sell two old brooches I discovered there that I think belonged to my grandmother. I knew no family members wanted them and I myself had never worn them. I headed to an antiques dealer—somehow that seemed more palatable than selling the items for their gold value alone, which I knew was not high. The dealer named his price, but when it came to the crunch, I found myself reluctant to part with one brooch in particular. Something in its pretty design reminded me of my grandmother, whom I loved very much.

I went away and thought about it for a while, but then made up my mind. I still have wonderful memories of my grandmother. I can see her now, with her beautiful, wavy, white hair and gentle, loving ways. Yes, the brooch was pretty, but I don’t need it to remind me of her. After all, it’s just a thing—those memories are far more valuable and will never be lost or fade from my mind.

I loved my grandmother. And I love my books and my jewellery. But I know I need to hold onto them lightly—because there’s something, or rather, Someone I love even more. You know, when all is said and done, what Jesus said about the things we treasure is so true, don’t you think?

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6::20-21

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