Moving house means sorting out what should be kept or thrown out. On the hoarding scale we are nowhere near the top of the scale (I think) but we have still amassed an amazing amount of material from our lives so far. In certain moods you can argue for retaining almost all of it. Your child's finger painting aged four, your Valentine's Day cards, your letters when leaving the UK or at any other time when they mark a significant event or friendship. To say nothing of the talks and sermons I have been preparing for nearly fifty years (to say nothing!) Many of you will have shared the tension of sorting out - and tension it is.
I wish we could have slowed down the sorting out process because I also had important lessons to learn. Remembering is an important spiritual art. One of the most significant moments came from rediscovering some of my old prayer journals. From Weds. October 7th. 1992 to January 3 1995 covered a dramatic time in my life - leaving the pastorate in Cambridge to becoming Principal at Spurgeon's College in 1993. I was surprised by the full entries on some days, by the detailed references to the spiritual aids I was using - especially Oswald Chamber's My Utmost and E Stanley Jones' Living Victoriously, and by the painful honesty of my prayers. At times my spiritual life really was in turmoil and page after page I pour out self-awareness and need.
Thankfully, overall, my entries show some personal development and shining moments. For example, on Saturday Oct 10th. I record a difficult tearful pastoral situation confronting a couple who had broken up another marriage in the church. Then I quote Oswald Chambers: "We read tomes on the Holy Spirit when one five minues of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam". And as I worked on my sermon for the next day I wrote a prayer that the Holy Spirit would grant me:
Desire to love,
Humility to learn,
Courage to live,
Commitment to listen.
It was a sunbeam moment!
I need to keep remembering how God has led me through and to be reminded to keep my journaling up-to-date yet reflect on the past. How often do you remember?