About a year ago my family and I were undertaking a big change in our lives. It was a time of great uncertainty. We were moving from our home of 15 years into a rented house as after 18 months of our house being on the market it had suddenly sold and the buyers wanted to move in within three weeks.
Everyone told us it was impossible to arrange a sale this quickly. We proved them wrong. But it was impossible for us to buy a house in that time, so we needed to find somewhere suitable to rent very quickly. We also had to sort out all the things we had accumulated in our basement, attic, large shed and garage. It was a huge amount.
As we didn’t really know what our future held – (who does?) we were apprehensive. My husband was starting a new business and we didn’t have a home. Not a comfortable position to be in and one that kept our minds fully engaged. You might call it worry!
The clearing of the attic had uncovered baby clothes, a Moses basket, toys, a cot, old rugs, the list goes on and on. We found new homes for everything that was in good condition on our local Freecycle. The shed had a collection of old paint pots, half used bottles of teak oil, mouldy hanging baskets and about 8 green petrol cans as well as numerous extension leads, broken tools and a million small polystyrene balls from a split bean bag.
Finally the day arrived when we needed to address the black hole also known as the garage. Thoughts of what our future held were very prominent that day. I was yet to find a new home for us and we had only a couple of weeks before we had to move. Despite my concerns we had to get on with clearing out our garage. When I say garage I’m sure you will appreciate that our cars had never seen the inside of this building. It was a storage room and old pieces of furniture, bicycles, camping gear and miscellaneous items were stored from the floor to the rafters and above the rafters too.
We had hired a skip which sat on the drive in front of the garage door. It took hours to make our way to the back of the garage but finally we could see the back wall. There were several boxes lined up in a row and as we took the top off of one of them it became apparent that these boxes had been in situ since we had moved in 15 years before. They were full of books. Most of which were now a bit mishappened from years spent in the damp. They smelt musty and did nothing to alleviate my general sense of unease and anxiety. I told my husband to put them all in the pile to go for recycling. He wanted to explore further to see if there was anything that we might want in these boxes. I was very frustrated. We had already spent hours in the cold and damp sorting through the mess and I didn’t want to spend any longer than was necessary. It was obvious to me that if we had lived without these books for the last 15 years we could safely get rid of them now. My husband disagreed. He began ferreting around in the boxes. I knew there was no point in trying to reason with a man who has found a useless old box and intends to explore its depths so I ignored him and carried on with what I saw as more useful pursuits.
‘Look’, he said’ your old school Bible’. I wasn’t interested. ‘Just put it in the recycling pile,’ I said without looking up. (Sorry God). ‘You can’t recycle a Bible,’ replied my horrified husband. I turned around to begin to explain to him that I had no need of my school bible but he offered it to me. I huffed and took it in my hand.
It was nothing special to look at. A very boring red cover, just the words The Bible, Revised Standard Version. But in that instant it brought back to me a long lost memory that I couldn’t quite grasp onto. I opened the cover and there was my name and the date in my childlike handwriting. But not just my name and the date. Underneath, at the age of 12, I had written ‘Matthew 6 verse 25’. Just looking at that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I’ve never been a church goer and the Bible is not familiar territory to me so it took me a while to work out where to find Matthew’s gospel. But my 12 year old self had drawn a line in the margin to make sure I didn’t miss the part that must have so impressed me over 40 years previously. I read:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
All I could think was that my 12 year old self had left me a message to find, in the future, at just the right moment, when things looked uncertain. My spirits were buoyed, a feeling of great peace came over me. Everything was going to be okay.
The Bible got to stay.