Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
8:18

Shredded

Shredded

Those teeth are merciless and final.

Coming to this recycling center was a necessary part of an effort to declutter.  Disposing of many years of household papers and receipts was far more than we could handle with our little, home shredder, so I have lugged a carload of accordion bill folders to this warehouse, where I am permitted to shred my own material.

The machine is a bit daunting.  The start-up button makes a loud click and the engine hums.  The conveyor belt begins its endless loop.  And I’m having second thoughts.

It’s not that I want to keep all this unrequired documentation.  It’s just that, when I pull out each clump to remove paper clips, I’m realizing what this represents for me.  It’s a record of my past: clients I had forgotten about, places I took the family, milestones in my career.  I’m grinding up memories.

Listen, this is final.  No, I mean, actually listen – as each pile reaches the end of their last journey, the rotating steel teeth consume them with a loud buzz-crunch!  I’m sure that if the shredder had lips, it would smack them.  Then ask for more.

It’s unnerving.

I’ve been studying 2 Corinthians in my daily devotional time.  And recently, the commentaries forced me to rethink this verse in chapter 4:

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Here’s how I have interpreted that verse: Since the physical world passes away, it doesn’t matter.  Focus, then on the spiritual world, which is eternal.  But I realize now that this creates a faulty divide between the physical (bad) and spiritual (good).  That dualistic view is not Biblical.

What Paul is contrasting is the now with the not-yet.  The current world, in which bodies deteriorate (for Paul, through persecution) is visible reality.  But it’s transient.  What we can’t see is the coming, permanent reality of the kingdom in which Jesus reigns and bodies become eternal.  The physical world is full of goodness, but it’s passing away.

Paul likens this current “reality” to a tent, which is put up and taken down, over and over.  But life in the coming Kingdom is like a permanent house.

That helps me to let go.  As I pull out the documents, I can remember and rejoice in those moments of God’s goodness to me.  And then feed them to the steel maw.

Because all that matters in all these memories and experiences is how they’ve trained me for the coming Kingdom – teaching me to love like Jesus loves, do my work as unto him, speak truth and bring healing in his name.

And to cling to this impermanent reality is like clutching onto the tent when the house is ready.

Man, I’ve got to get ready to move!

Lord, we rejoice in the goodness you show us in this life.  But keep us from clutching onto it, as if to build bigger tents.  Keep us ever shaped by the “not yet.”

Reader: have you ever downsized?  What was the hardest thing to let go of?

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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