As I sit at my computer and write my penultimate pastoral letter to you, I am very mindful that the hand of time does not stop. This was reinforced throughout the course of the day, as representatives from various removal firms arrived at the manse to make an infantry of our furniture and belongings in preparation for our move to the North East. It is planned for the first week of August, and it’s hard to believe it is just over a couple of months away.
One of the more demanding aspects of moving is sorting out all the items which are now possibly surplus to requirements, and believe me I have acquired plenty of them during the course of my ministry. I can be a bit of a hoarder by nature, always believing that such and such a thing may be useful at some point in the future. Approaching nearer to the point of retirement, however, does at least motivate me to be a bit more ruthless in making decisions on what can be disposed of. One exercise I did, which I thought would be helpful for the removal representatives in making their assessment, was to put every box full of items that was not going with us in the centre of the garage floor. Items that would be going either to the disposal and recycling unit in Oldham, or those boxes which would go to charity shops. I’m glad I did it because it meant one less removal van! I’m sure Debbie would have happily disposed with a lot more, but what is rubbish to one person is priceless to another!
On a more serious note, there are times when having a serious declutter of our personal lives is no bad thing. Living and interacting with the world at large can sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, have a detrimental effect upon our thinking and doing. Indeed, it might cause us to ask ourselves certain fundamental questions. For example, what are the wrong attitudes and misplaced values that are cluttering up my life at this moment in time? I don’t think any of us are immune from these negative pressures and influences.
I have learned that one great benefit of getting rid of old items is the sense of positive energy it brings. I confess I feel better at having a good sort out, and this is true at both a mental and spiritual level. Jesus Himself recognised this. There was an occasion when he told his disciples that in order to be effective in their witness, they needed to sort out their priorities and not to clutter up their lives with things they did not need. It was a call to be equipped and furnished for service. Staying close to Christ through a life of prayer, fellowship, Scripture reading and worship will allow God, by his Spirit, plenty of room to work in our lives. I'd better stop now - Debbie is calling me to sort out the shed!