Monday, December 3, 2007

"I'm Gonna Use That Some Day"


It's Monday morning. The weekend is over. Now it's back to work, back to the office. I came in this morning with the intention of going through and sorting out a bunch of stuff that has piled up on my desk and a few other places. I read somewhere that you should always sort through your mail from a standing position. As you look at each piece of mail you are to determine right there and then what to do with it. If you know darn well that it's junk mail you should immediately throw it in the recycling can. If it is important and needs attention, do it immediately, before sitting back down at your desk. This is a way to force yourself to deal with things as they come up--bang, pow, it's over.

Sounds good, but I am a ponderer. Having just a touch of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) I agonize over ever stupid piece of mail. In the end, in frustration, I lay the mail back down in a pile telling myself that I'll look at it again later when I'm in a better frame of mind to make a decision about it. That's what's known as "mental gymnastics." And it's not just mail that piles up, either. It's all kinds of stuff--sermons I've preached that need to be filed, great articles that I can't bear to throw away, Leadership Journal magazines that I plan to read, newspaper clippings that people hand me, copies of music that need to go back in the file cabinet, etc. It's nuts!

That's not all. I have a couple of shelves full of notebooks from conferences or seminars I've attended. Some of them are overflowing with wonderful, inspiring, soul-stirring material, powerful stuff, that I'm sure I'll use some day. On top of that I have a couple of large file cabinets--one with three deep drawers, the other with two--both full of wonderful information that I seldom or never look at, but that I tell myself I'll need some day. Can you relate to any of this?

And books...don't even get me started on books. I have books that I will never read, never use. But I love books, and can't bear the thought of getting rid of them. I already had a very large theological library. Then, after my dad died, I inherited his books too. I gave a bunch of books away then, but it nearly killed me, and I kept way more of his books than I should have. They are currently sitting in boxes in the room next to my office because I don't have enough shelf space to put them out. But even if I did, I probably wouldn't use most of them either. They would just sit there gathering dust like most of the books and other junk that already owns me.

Where am I going with this sad confession? I am coming to realize that most of us humans spend most of our lives either looking back at the past or trying to second guess what's coming in the future. We aren't so good at living in the present, enjoying the moment, making the most of who and what we have right now. For example, my filing fetish is about not wanting to lose something that I worked so hard on in the past ( my sermons, articles I've written, meeting minutes, planning sheets, etc.). Something in me makes me want to preserve that junk, though I know in my heart of hearts that most of it just ain't that good. On the other hand, I also file stuff I might possibly need in the future (illustrations, great stories, funny emails people send me, etc.). The sane part of my brain, however, tells me that I almost never dip into that stuff anyway, and that now with the Internet I can get more information than I can use with one click of a mouse, any time, from any place on the planet.

I want to learn to live more in the here and now, the only piece of time that I own, that I have any control over. The past is gone. I have some snapshots and some memories, but I can't change anything. The past is a done deal. Likewise, the future is yet unwritten, a blank scroll. I have some hopes, some dreams, some desires. But the future is in God's hands. Every beat of my heart, every breath I take in is a gift from Him, and He has already determined my timeline. It doesn't make any sense to worry about tomorrow.

But I have right now, today. Today I can tell people that I love them. Today I can encourage someone, and tell him how much he or she means to me. Today I can share with someone about God's love. Today I can do one of the tasks I have been putting off. Today I can spend some time talking with God and getting reacquainted with Him. Today I can write a letter to a far off friend telling them what their friendship has meant to me over the years. Today I can take a walk and enjoy God's handiwork.

It's been nice visiting with you. If you will excuse me though, I have some things that I want to do today. I think I'll start by tackling that pile of mail. I may throw out some of those old seminar notebooks too. And I'm going to fill up a couple of boxes with books to give away to someone who might use them.

Crazy, but cheerful

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