“You’re going to want to write this down.”
We’ve all heard these words at one time or another from a variety of sources: a high school teacher or college professor, an employer, a civil servant, a doctor or a spouse. These words are sometimes followed by information that is critical for passing a test and other times by items that are necessary for the preparation of dinner. These words typically signify that something is about to be shared that you will want to remember. These words typically separate the information that truly matters from the information that does not.
If, by some miraculous means, I were able to talk to my younger self (before I entered married life and fatherhood), I would utter these words to that twenty-something naive boy and wait for me to grab a pen and some paper. Then I would say:
- Take more pictures of the people in your life than you think you ought, and be sure to include yourself in some of them – one day you will need to remember occasions and nothing is better than pictures;
- Keep your kids’ report cards, awards, projects and homemade birthday cards and never put junk mail in a box to deal with ‘later’: every time you move it will make the burden of packing a little more delightful;
- Read some good books (to yourself, your wife and your children): they can be a vacation to an exotic locale when funds are tight;
- Say ‘thank you’ more than you say ‘give me’ – an attitude of gratitude will carry you further than a spirit of entitlement;
- Hold onto the things that bring you joy and jettison the things that hold you back.
As many of you know, we are required to move again (making this the third time in 10 years). This exercise in crating and carrying has made me acutely aware of my need to keep the things that truly matter and not keep the things that do not. It has given our family the opportunity to let go of some of the toys of our youth and rediscover some of the treasures we had forgotten about. In the midst of the drudgery, it has been good to laugh and cry over old photographs, tattered letters and yellowed crayon drawings. It has been good to rejoice in the sheer volume of stuff my family has amassed over the years.
This time of packing has reminded me of one of my greatest possessions – God’s Word. Knowing His creation, God understands the limits of the human mind and has carefully preserved His promises so that we can read them regularly. Surely, if there was anything that we’d want to write down, it is this:
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 (NIV)