I could quite usefully do this action every day – and I suspect I’d still never run out of mess to sort out. Tidying up in our house is like painting the Forth Bridge: a never-ending task.
One of the reasons why my study in particular is always a messy place is that I never seem to get my act together to put things away when I’ve used them – I love creating interesting visual and tactile aids to preaching and prayer, but at the end of a long Sunday, everything is in bags and boxes on the floor and I simply don’t have the energy to do anything with them. I am pretty sure that there have been times that I’ve re-done whole resources simply because I can’t find what I already had made – and it was probably somewhere in the pile of stuff.
And then there is the problem that some things simply don’t have a place to go. Take the giant crib set that one of my churches was given just before Christmas. It doesn’t belong anywhere so it’s spent over two months sitting in a huge cardboard box in the middle of my floor. I’ve stubbed my toe on it, I’ve tripped over it… but I haven’t found anywhere permanent for it to live!
But more crucially, in a job like mine there are many, many small bits and pieces of paperwork, messages, notes, and more, that aren’t just bits of paper. They are people who are sick and need prayer, they are wedding couples wanting a call back about their big day, they are funeral families who are struggling. Losing one small piece of paper in a whole pile of paperwork can make a huge difference to the person whose name and situation was scribbled on it as I rushed in from one thing and out to the next.
I, along with most vicars, I suspect, live in fear of losing people. We can’t trust our memories, not completely, and not infallibly. And we don’t get the administration right all the time either. I read the ‘lost’ parables in Luke 15 and they remind me of the need to keep my eye on the ball, to count my coins and my sheep, and to invest the time in caring for them and looking for them.
But I also remember those wonderful words of Jesus in John’s gospel, about how God the Father has entrusted us into his hands, and ‘not one of them shall be lost’. That is my prayer. That what slips through my fingers will be caught by the much bigger hands of God, and that the sheep I lose will be found by the Good Shepherd.
And in the mean time I’ve typed all the information on forthcoming weddings into a spreadsheet instead of leaving it on paper sheets, because although I know God has it all in hand, I need to have it in hand too… Not that I’m confessing to have ever lost any wedding booking forms. I’d never do that. Really…..