The announcement was made. A nightmare beyond all imaginings! How could they do this to us? The staffroom was filled with talk of nothing else. We all had to change classrooms. Everyone! Every class was being swapped around. The thing is, teachers are terrible hoarders. Who knows when this curious item might just be the thing? And when you’ve held sway in the same room for countless years, the stuff is limited only by the straining hinges of the storeroom door. And when it comes to clearing out, how on earth do you remember if the item is your personal property, something you’ve claimed expenses for, something that belongs to the school as a whole, or something appertaining to that particular room?
One thing is certain. You cannot on any account take it all with you. It all has to be sorted. Things even have to be thrown away!
Jacob’s family had some sorting out to do. And in particular, things had to be got rid of (Genesis 35:2-4) in particular, their foreign gods. They also chose to give up their ear rings. Once you start clearing out, you get a taste for living tidily. They must have felt the need to get rid of anything that would hinder their progress back to Bethel, back to the one true God, the one who they needed to be close to.
We all have things in our lives that don’t help our spiritual progress. Sometimes we need someone else to point it out; but I think that if we are honest with ourselves, and really want to live ‘tidily’ we can start spotting them for ourselves. For starter, try to imagine Jesus sitting next to you while watching the TV. Is he laughing at the jokes? Is he comfortable with the violence? Or the ethics? Or the language? When he looks in your shopping trolley, does he compliment you on looking after your body with healthy foods? Are you happy at him joining in the staffroom conversations, and what does he think about your relationships with others? Your credit card? Your moods?
Have you spotted any clearing out to do yet? The thing is, once that family of Jacob got their lives in order, it was noticeable. “The terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.” (v5) If we want to live powerful lives, then maybe we need a real good clear-out. If we want to move on, we have to travel light.