Monday, October 24, 2005

The Last Stretch

Following on from my post about my life options, the other side of things is that these next few months aren't a few minutes. I still have a life to live - but how things change.

After getting back from the airport this morning, one of the first few things I did was make a list of what I need to get done, because whatever the choice for the future, it's going to mean change. So, I've begun the mental process and soon the practical task of battening down the hatches and tying off the ropes. Wherever I end up, it should be in order.

There are a number of items Mum and Reub left behind that I have to ensure go to their proper places. Then I have to look at the left over items and clothes and decide what will be kept and what donated. I'm going through my books looking to see what I will keep, what I will give to those who come to mind, and the rest I might use as a start to a new library system at church - if they go for the idea. This last thing has brought back to mind something I read from Hudson Taylor a while ago. He spoke of how he came to realise, in view of the immense of Christ's return, that so much of what we have - gifts and possessions - must not be wasted but put to good use. Books that sit on shelves month after month and year after year, would be better put to use being read by someone else, perhaps someone who has not the resources or knowledge. Clothes kept away could be worn by those whose backs are bare instead of gathering dust. We need only little in this life, and there is so much turn over. Hudson saw no point in hoarding but in trying to put all resources at his command to the best and most efficient use. I also think of the picture of the Church in Acts 2, and how they shared what they have. Oh the wonderful blessings that would abound if families and individuals in the churches would share between themselves all they have - books, tools, music, clothes, skills, and of course food and money and time. I suppose that brings to mind my post on the OSB and Benedict and how he considered that he owned nothing but was simply taking care of it for God, sharing it with others. That God gives what he gives to individuals but for the use of the Church. What is our concept of ownership?

And so, though it would only work with the understanding and teaching that those who participate are to honour and look after this physical 'treasury of the church', I think it would be a wonderful thing for those who wish to be included, to put on a list all that which they have which they wish to make available to others in the church, to share. What kind of a music and reading library would we see? What kind of things might we all have access to which would normally cost so much? I see no down sides to this beyond a little cost in time, perhaps inconvenience, and in the case of abuse of mis-use, a physical cost. Though I wonder whether Christ doesn't ask us to bear that burden in the pursuit of loving one another.

Returning, though, to my preparations. As I wrote that list this morning I considered also how I should live. I cannot live blindly without an eye to the future, because were I to do so there would be much which can only be done with time that would not get done. I have pieces of writing and ministry ideas to complete - things I can then leave with people here should I go, or that I can leaved posted here should I not be able to return to this place for some time. At least they can be read instead of 'gathering dust' as drafts. Then finally, should I leave, there are so many things I want to say to people, I need to make an aim of taking time to pray for people and write to them the things God, or I, might want to say. Things that otherwise would be left unsaid. What use is it to think a million good things about someone, blessings, encouragement, advice or challenges, and yet to never say them?

This last one has been a challenge to me recently. It is only when there is a soon coming end in sight that I, we, begin to think this way; to make the most of what we have right now. There is not reason though why we could or should not be more thoughtful of, and driven for, one another all of the time. Life is life and time rolls on, I know. Yet it is the sudden and sometimes unexpected stops and changes that begin to show us waste and desire, need and priority. Besides, it might be cliche, but none of us truly know how long we have in any given place or relationship. Why hold on until tomorrow to do that which we can do today?

Finally, a lesson from my brother. The farewell at the airport was a teary-eyed one for all us, but most of all for my brother and his friends. Three of them came to see him off in addition to us, his family. As we spoke to one another and gave out our hugs the emotion for my brother was striking. The tears from his friends' eyes and from his own spoke of the lack and pain they would be feeling. This change was a big one - a significant part of their life was being taken away, and it mattered. I too felt the pull but as I watched I considered, "What would the situation look like were it me saying good-bye to my friends"?

My point is this, whilst some people are just very emotional, for many, especially guys, such displays of emotion show significance, they show real loss and pain. That loss was there because those friends had invested into one another's' lives. They had not lived life on the surface but had plunged in. They had bonded together and they mattered to one another. Not just their ideas, not just their writings or speaking, but they themselves mattered to one another. How do we live life? For those more stoic ones amongst us - and being stoic is not a bad thing, the stoics are needed as much as those more emotional - are we allowing ourselves to truly live? Are we passing up on the very stuff of life because of a notion or an idea of life, a perception? Our relationships are not just opportunities for logic and reason, let us not be too general, but let's get specific. Let us dive in and live by experience also.

More and more as I consider life and ministry I see the value in living life as richly and thickly as possible. I wonder about all those writers and Christians who are learning the Gospel in theory, and the Word of God within their offices and studies. It occurs to me that although many writers have offered treasure in their ink, surely it those who write from experience who offer the most. An exegetical commentary on the letters of John can tell me a lot about what the Bible says about love. However, a simple story from the life of a man who has tried to put those things into practice in the world tells me even more. The two go hand in hand. We need knowledge of what God has said, but we need also the understanding of it in reality. With our friends, we Christians need to not only pray about and tell them what they need, what God might be speaking, and what 'wisdom' is; we need also to offer more than speech. Friendship must be lived, it cannot simply be spoken. Love must be done, it cannot simply be expounded. Life must be lived, it cannot simple be written about.

Well, I shall end it there. I have to go back to my boat and continue sorting things out. There is much left to be cut away, stored, put to use and focused upon.

God bless,