Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 7

Ecclesiastes 3 v 1 – 8/Luke 14 v 25 – 33

We are all aware of the sudden shortage of everyday goods at the start of the Coronavirus crisis, a situation that still carries on to a lesser extent at the time of writing this. It was a result of people panic buying and a fear that essential items would not be available. The affected items included; toilet rolls some fresh produce, hand wash and sanitisers amongst others. However, there was one item that disappeared gently from the shelves and the shortage that resulted was given little publicity.

That was Wallpaper Adhesive. Yes that familiar yellow packet became gold dust as soon as social separation was declared. The reason being that for every five or six rolls of wallpaper a packet of adhesive is required, and DIY shops failed to predict a sudden enthusiasm for home decorating. Dining room, Lounge, Bedroom, there was not a single room that could escape the paint and paper revolution now we have more time at home. What makes it worse is that once one family embarks upon resurrecting their dwelling to its former glory, their neighbours just have to follow suit. And that included me.

I had wallpaper left over from the hall and staircase two years ago and my daughter had a spare packet of adhesive from her lounge adventure a few weeks previously so I had no excuse. The furniture came out of the back bedroom, into the front bedroom and my bedroom, and onto the landing. Armed with a scraper in one hand and a radio in the other I went into battle with the walls.

Have you ever noticed how devious old wallpaper can be, it lures you into a false sense of security then shows its stubborn streak. You pick at a loose corner and pull. It comes off easily and it’s quite gratifying to see large pieces travelling up towards the ceiling, but then it leaves a thin under paper that refuses to admit defeat. The efforts of the scraper succeed in removing a millimetre at a time and become quite painful to the hand and wrist.

Eventually I had no option but to bring in the heavy artillery and introduce a bucket of water. With attitude of ‘I’m not to let a bit of wallpaper beat me’. I attack with enthusiasm and soon the bare wall is revealed, and also revealed is scribbled writing. A series of dates appear, 1986, was that the last time we decorated? 1973, that’s when we moved in. 1969, that’s the previous owner’s attempts, 1964, that’s when the house was built.

I thought of everything that had happened during the cycle of decorating events in that bedroom. How lives had changed, how children had grown up, how people had come and gone, and as I wrote 2020 on an available space on the wall I thought who might uncover that in years to come.

I telephoned my friend, who is an avid decorator, so much so that at one time I thought he had a paint brush permanently attached to his hand. I related to him my escapades with the obstinate wallpaper but received no sympathy. ‘You should have used a steamer’, he said.

 Isn’t retrospective advice wonderful? 

‘Well’, he said, ‘nobody said it would be easy’.

Now there’s a phrase that should carry a health warning. How many times do we start something then complain that it’s much more difficult than we thought it would be. Well no one said it would be easy.

It’s like learning to play a musical instrument when you are a child, with the assumption that you can just pick it up and start to play. The need for endless practice and perseverance never enter your head but no one said it would be easy.  

I thought of the scriptures, Jesus telling his disciples that their journey of faith was not going to be easy, (Luke 14 v 25 – 33). They will experience personal sacrifice, a new way of life and a total dedication to Jesus Christ, to love him more than they love their mother, father, sister, brother, wife, children and even themselves. No one said it was going to be easy.

I imagined the 72 returning from their commission (Luke 10 v 1 – 12) and Jesus addressing their experiences and saying, well done it can’t have been easy.

 I can hear Christ’s voice saying to all who desire to be his followers that at times it won’t be easy, but the rewards will be amazing.

My dad used to tell me, ‘you have to put everything into a job to get something out of it’’

Being a follower of Christ means you put your life into it to get your life out of it.

The decorating is finished, ceiling painted, walls papered and painted, dado rail fitted and looks good, but unfortunately the floor is only floorboards. The wallpaper had the last word and mixed with the water ruined the old carpet. Lewis’s furniture shop in the village had to close due to the restrictions, before they could come and fit a new one, so, the furniture is still in the front bedroom, and my bedroom, and on the landing.

Ah well ;- no one said it would be easy. 

Derek T.