I noticed something, this morning. (I’m almost ashamed to admit how much happens around me and my life every day that I don’t notice or pay attention to.) But this morning, I noticed something as I opened my center desk drawer. What I noticed was … junk.
It wasn’t big junk, like piles of refuse or garbage. It was small stuff that I had dropped into my center desk drawer sometime in the past, for some reason. I don’t open that drawer very often, I know. But this morning, as I looked for something — I don’t even remember what I was looking for — I opened the center desk drawer, and there I found an exquisite collection of stuff. Collectible junk that was safely stored away like some treasured possession that I knew I would need someday. And I was struck by the poignancy of the content of that drawer.
There were three pencils with broken points, and four pieces of those pink rubber erasers in there. Four! How many erasers was I thinking I would need when I put those erasers in that drawer? Stuck back in the back, I found a pack of gum, too. Lord only knows how long it’s been in that drawer. There was a box of staples that fit a stapler that I no longer own, along with ink refill cartridges for pens I threw away a long time ago because they stopped writing. (If I had known I had refill cartridges for those pens in my junk drawer, I might not have thrown them away.) There was a sticky pad in that drawer, along with a hand-written note that said: “Reminder. Call Bob. Important.” Bob who? What’s his number? What was it that was so important that I needed to call him about? Don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but the note was in my junk drawer.
There’s a staple remover in there. Can’t remember the last time I used a staple remover to take a staple out of some papers, but I’ve got a staple remover, if anyone wants to borrow it. It’s in my middle desk drawer. I found a small plastic ruler in my drawer. I say small, because it’s only about 6 inches long. Actually, in fact, it’s exactly 16.5 centimeters long. I know that because the centimeters are marked along the edge of that short ruler in my junk drawer.
I could go on and on about the minutia filling my middle drawer. Ballpoint pens that don’t work. Rubber bands that don’t stretch any more. Bent paper clips. A book of matches that are so old they don’t strike anymore. Oh, and one more thing: a thumb drive or memory stick with pictures stored on it. Stuck in the far back of the drawer, and long ago, forgotten. When I started noticing the content of the drawer, I wondered what was on the thumb drive, so I connected the USB to my computer to take a look. I saw pictures of my newborn granddaughter. Well, she was newborn when the picture was taken. She’s a sophomore in high school now. There were family pictures on that thumb drive — pictures of me and my family. Try as I might, I could not remember those pictures being taken. There were several photos of locations I just couldn’t quite place.
Perhaps, as I’ve been mentioning the content of my ‘junk drawer,’ you’ve been reminded of a junk drawer of your own? Maybe it’s in a desk, or a cabinet? Maybe you’ve thought of a drawer in your kitchen or perhaps a night stand in your bedroom. Some drawer filled with stuff you’ve forgotten all about; stuff taking up room and occupying valuable space.
Or maybe, as I’ve told you about my junk drawer, you’ve said to yourself, “Man, not me. I hate the clutter of stuff I don’t need or can’t use. I don’t put that kind of stuff in some drawer, never to be thought of again. I throw that worthless stuff away!” Well, maybe you don’t have the challenge with ‘stuff’ that I do. You don’t have a middle desk drawer.
No matter. The great challenge in all our lives, I think, isn’t the physical clutter; stuff we can see that we should have thrown away a long time ago. It’s with the small, petty things that weigh us down. Things that don’t work anymore. Things we struggle to erase. Things written on the scratchpads of our memory that, try as we might, we just can’t quite figure out.
If the junk drawer of your life is filled with stuff you should have discarded a long time ago? Take a hint from that old war horse, the Apostle Paul, and his letter to the Philippians, in chapter 3. The New Living Translation of verses 7-9 of Phil. chapter 3 read:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.”