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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Marbles

I’ve reached the age now where I can hear my friends saying that they reckon I’m starting to lose my marbles.  I’ve got news for them – I began to lose my marbles a long time ago but not long ago I read a story which made me feel that I wanted to go and get some more marbles, real ones, not metaphorical ones. Marbles might not seem to you to have much to do with Easter but Easter and marbles both tell us that there’s more to life than just life, if you see what I mean.

 It was a story of a man who worked long hours, who spent a lot of time away from home and never seemed to have time for his children.  He was sitting one Saturday and feeling a bit sorry for himself but to amuse himself and to try and keep his brain in trim he did a bit of arithmetic.  First of all he realised that the average person lives about seventy-five years.  Some live more, some less but seventy-five is the biblical three score years and ten with a bit extra for good luck. 

Then it being a Saturday, he decided to work out how many Saturdays there are in seventy-five years.  3900.  So the average person has 3900 Saturdays in their lifetime.  It so happened that the man was 55 when he decided to do his sums so he decided to think about how many Saturdays he’d had already.  2860.  So he had just about a thousand Saturdays still in the bank, so to speak
.

 Now a thousand Saturdays is not an easy thing to imagine and so he decided that he needed something to help him think about them so he went to a shop and bought a thousand marbles.  Actually he had to go to three toyshops before he managed to buy a thousand marbles but to the envy of the children he saw in each toyshop he managed to buy a thousand marbles.  Each marble would be a Saturday still to be spent. 

 He then went to a sweet shop and bought a big jar of sweets and he gave the sweets to the children of the village because he thought that might be fun and he kept the big empty jar for himself and he put his marbles into his jar.  And then each Saturday he took one marble out of the jar. 

 Slowly he watched his collection of marbles diminish but as he took each marble out of the jar it helped him to focus on the really important things of life.  It was as though he was watching his time on earth running away and he needed to get his priorities straight.  And so he found more time to play with his grandchildren than ever he’d had to play with his children.  He found time to make some fantastic hanging baskets.  He took up rambling.  He ran a couple of courses for U3A.

 Now the odd thing is that he worked out that sum about thirty years ago and so the really clever among you, who still have your metaphorical marbles, will know that he had gone through all his marbles.  So you might be thinking shame.  Poor old fellah.  But that’s not what the man thinks.  Because he got another jar and again gave the sweets to the local children but instead of taking one marble out each Saturday, he puts a marble in.  Each marble that goes into the new container is bonus time.  It is more time to notice the flowers, to appreciate his great grandchildren, to learn to cook a new dish.

 We're all mortal, and some of us don't have too many marbles left! It's so important to get priorities straight while we have time. And real priorities in this life are to do with relationships and love.  Important things are watching your children or grandchildren playing football, listening to excruciating violin practice; making sure your old Mum is OK; telling your wife or husband that you love them, ringing up that friend who you've been thinking about but haven't got round to contacting.


 And there is another priority that we need to get around to and that is forgiveness.  If there's someone in your life who has damaged you in some way, do try to forgive them before it's too late. You see, if you don't forgive them it's no skin off their nose, but it does continue to damage you. Being unable to forgive is a real block inside you.  It’s a heavy block, like a building block and it’s an impenetrable block to God’s love reaching you. When you can't forgive, even if you push all memories of the incident or incidents to the back of your mind, hatred is still nurtured and nourished inside you. And hatred eats away at your soul.

 

When Jesus died he showed us just what it is to love.  Human beings did their worst to him.  He was betrayed by one of his best friends, he was flogged, he was nailed to a cross and passers-by were told that he was a criminal And he still went on loving them despite all that. He even prayed for them and for us, saying to God, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." I say he prayed for us for that is what we human beings still don’t know what we are doing. 

 

In a way, we still nail him to the cross, because we human beings still betray other people, still damage and hurt other people, still gossip about and malign other people. And every time we do that, it's like hammering another nail into his hands and feet. Yet God forgives us. We have all been forgiven so much, and all God asks in return is that we love and forgive each other just as Jesus showed us.  And then we can receive God’s love and forgiveness as well.

 

How many marbles do you have left? There are 290 in my metaphorical sweetie jar.  How many bonus marbles have you collected?  How much time do you have for that act of forgiveness, for that demonstration of love?

 

The more we love and forgive in this life the more we will know of resurrection in this life.  But one day we will know life in a fantastic new way when we find ourselves in the presence of God. If you learn to love and forgive in this life, then you'll find yourself living and loving with God in your new life after death.

 

How many marbles do you have left? Life is too short to waste time on grudges and hatred and spite and resentment. Let it all go. Give it over into the hands of Jesus and open your heart to him so that you too can receive all he has waiting for you. And then it won't matter how many marbles have passed through that jar.

3 comments:

  1. This is a lovely post, meaning so much to people. I celebrated by 70th birthday 2 weeks ago but haven't worked out how many marbles I have left. Perhaps I will. Hope you have had a blessed Easter.

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  2. Reading this meant a lot to me. I can see why you are missed as a Vicar, Mary. You speak to the heart.

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  3. I like the story of the man and his marbles. Each Saturday and each marble can be precious and I have reached my three score and ten. I agree about forgiveness, and Jesus commanded us to forgive. As we forgive others so our Heavenly Father will forgive us so that is an inspiration to me.

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