the parable of the lovely notebook

Is it just me, or do others really enjoy having a new notebook or diary (if you still use a paper one)? There’s something attractive about having a notebook with crisp, pristine pages. I love it. I anticipate what I will use it for. I make myself promises that I won’t scribble or cross things out. I will only ever use nice pens to write in the book, and I will always use my best writing.

Recently for my birthday some kind friends of mine bought me this notebook.

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It was made in Italy and it’s got a lovely leather cover with that leather strap to keep it closed. It’s got my initials embossed on the front. The paper is lovely quality. I love it.

The only problem is that I haven’t used it yet. The book is too nice just to be used for taking phone messages or reminders.I want it to be used for something important and special. I want it to contain things that I will want to come back to and look over again in the future. I don’t want to spoil it with scruffy, rushed notes, or with poor quality handwriting, or with scratchy pens.

So the book is still in pristine condition.

But it’s not being used. It’s not able to fulfil its purpose. It’s being denied the opportunity to do all that it was created to be and do because I am concerned that it will not be used in the way that it deserves to be used.

Do we sometimes deny ourselves, or others, an opportunity to try something and to grow and flourish from it because we are afraid?

Do we sometimes forget that we have been given gifts, skills and personality in order to bless, delight and encourage others and keep them to ourselves instead?

Do we want to protect people or ourselves from harm and thus avoid taking any risks?

I have an idea of what to do with the book. I have resolved to use it.

What about you?

Be blessed, be a blessing

getting trollied?

No, this is not a bloggage about drunkenness, although it begins with a confession:

I have trolley-lust. There’s something about trollies that I love. It may be that they are so simple, yet so useful (like me?). It may be that they are so mundane and ordinary that we take them for granted (like me?). It may be that they have been around almost as long as wheels have been put on axles (like… er no).

I have recently realised that not only do I like trollies a lot. I now need one. A while ago I did a magic show at Cafechurch in Bluewater Shopping Centre and carried the box of tricks (literally) all the way from my car to the Costa Coffee shop. And back. And afterwards I realised that I had hurt my back. I could have done with a trolley.

I have also recently bought a boat (see this bloggage) and have realised that I will need a trolley to help me convey it to the launch sites because it is so big and there’s kit to go with it.

So I have been looking into buying a trolley, guided by my wife Sally (the voice of wisdom). I really liked this trolley, which is on offer in Robert Dyas at the moment  thumbnail(click on pic for link). It’s big, got rugged wheels and looks like it means business. But the voice of wisdom asked if it wasn’t too big and bulky. Would I fit it into the back of my car for when I needed to transfer items from the car to another venue. She was right (as she usually is) and I have reluctantly agreed that this is not the trolley for me.

But this setback has not diminished my trolley-lust, nor has it made me think that I don’t need one. If anything it heightened my awareness of the need, especially as I have just agreed to do another magic show soon where I will need to lug boxes of tricks from the car. So I searched online for trollies and saw some spectacularly superlative trollies. I also understood more about them. The one pictured above is actually more of a cart than a trolley. And the sort of trolley with two handles, a scoop at the bottom and just two wheels is called a ‘sack trolley’. Who knew?

Hand TrolleyThen, just as I was despairing of ever finding the right trolley for me (budget, size and capability) I came across this one. It’s a sack trolley. But it also transforms into a cart!!! It combines the best of both worlds, and is small enough to load into my car along with the stuff that will need to be trolley-transported.

Do you want to see what it looks like as a cart?

I know you do really.

Here it is…Hand Trolley

Isn’t it magnificent? Just what is needed! And at the moment (May 2012) it’s on special offer!! Woooo Hoooo! [clicks and orders]. (If you want one too, click on the image above.)

I may be getting a bit carried away at the moment (really?) but I think there’s something even more exciting that may happen. You see because I ordered it online, it’s going to be delivered to our house. And what if (deep breath, calm down)… what if it’s transferred from the lorry to our house on another trolley?! That may be the ultimate in trolleyness.

Before you start sending the men in white coats around to our house (and bearing in mind they may strap me to a trolley, which would be self-defeating), I should try to get to the point of this bloggage.

Tucked away in the New Testament is a tiny little letter that Paul wrote to a friend called Philemon. It seems (from the back story) that Paul had met a runaway slave from Philemon’s household by the name of Onesimus. (Bear in mind that slavery in those days was commonplace and that there is a biblical injunction to treat them well – almost as employees). How Paul had met him we don’t know, but he had been helpful to Paul and had become a believer. Paul was sending him back to Philemon (where the law said he should be flogged, or worse, for running away) with this letter in which he asked Philemon to welcome him back as a brother in Christ.

Onesimus means ‘useful’. In the letter Paul makes a pun on this by saying that he had been useless to Philemon (perhaps he was a poor worker) but had become useful to him, and will be useful to Philemon.

The point of all this? The things and people we take for granted can all be useful to God (including us). What we may consider to be useless is useful in God’s eyes. Jesus took a bunch of ordinary people and transformed them into a new movement. He took a boat and turned it into a pulpit. He took a packed lunch and turned it into mass catering. He took bread and wine and turned them into an encounter with him. He took his own death and turned it into new life for all who love him.

Don’t write anyone or anything off. It’s all useful to God – even more useful than a trolley that converts into a cart.

Be blessed, be a blessing.