Taking stock... ah, January
It's that time of year for keeping the shop open while we count everything, every book, every mezuzah, every prayer shawl, every candle... so that we can adjust our records to what is accurate and we can order what we need to re-stock. And all across the country, there are stock-take sales; I guess folks would rather sell items for a discount, than count those same items. And that makes sense to me in a way. It's all about saving time.
We have 800 products in our little shop and they are diminished as a result of the end-of-year sales, and people who bought goods to give for Hanukkah or Christmas, or just to restock their anointing oils or CD collection.
Stock. Goods. Inventory. I like taking stock. Not only here at the bookshop but also in life. Lately, I've been making lists, all kinds of lists: gratitude lists, to-do lists, wish lists... you know, the kind of stuff that New Year's Resolutions are made of. But those aren't quite enough. I'm taking stock of my person. I'm evaluating what makes me to be me. My lists include what bothers me, and who bothers me. It includes what I could have done to prevent that bother. This inventory demands thoroughness; it demands honesty. That is much the same as stocktaking in the shop.
You see, the records have to be accurate. Accurate records allow us to know what we have on the shelves and what we don't have. It allows us to order more goods to re-stock the shelves and supply what is needed for our future customers. In the same way, unless I honestly evaluate what's going on in my mind, in my heart, in my spirit-- I'll never have the needed supply for others, for my family, for my neighbors, for the rest of my sphere of influence.
To be accurate, I have to take my time. I have to take honest stock. This is not a rush job. When that person offended me or disappointed me, what was the cause of that offense or resentment? And then how did that affect me? This is a process. And it takes more time. So I'm not in a hurry, but I want to get through this process. Maybe the most important section of this inventory is the item "Where was I wrong?" More and more I'm coming to understand that most of the time my errors in judgment and in life have to do with my thinking I deserve stuff; I deserve kindness; I deserve love; I deserve.
Of course, deservedness or entitlement won't help anyone in this listing of mine. It certainly won't help me. But knowing what my list defines will help me to amend things. I can change. I can take stock, not to preserve stock, but to amend my thinking, amend my (lack of) cares, and make 2019 a new year.
Some items don't need to be restocked. You know, things you used to carry in the shop that have gone past their use-by or interest dates. In the same way, there are things you want to remove from your life. Stocktaking is the way to oversee your own personal inventory. I'm working on this removing of wrong inventory just now. Maybe you are also.
But wait, the term I want to get to is the one called "goods." Wiki tells me "In economics, goods are materials that satisfy human wants and provide utility, for example, to a consumer making a purchase of a satisfying product. ... A good may be a consumable item that is useful to people but scarce in relation to its demand so that human effort is required to obtain it." Think of shopping for goods at the grocery store. All the products for which you have to pay are 'goods.'
I like that. Goods sounds like a good word. When I take stock of my life, I should not only find the items to change, but also the stock that I want to keep. I need to find the goods. That is, the good stuff. The things that God has already been working on, and amending. The things that I can be dignified about. The things that make God smile. And my wife to smile. And my kids and grandsons. Those are goods. And that should also be inventoried.
God is the Creator and He continues to invest Himself in our lives and in the life of the planet. He takes stock. In the book of the Revelation, Yeshua says, ""I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve." (2.23)
The Lord invites us through King David to take stock in Psalm 139, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." (verses 23-24)
I invite you to join me in this searching and honest inventory.
I invite you to join the Lord in searching you out, and in your searching Him out.
Oh, and come by our Bondi Junction bookshop, and we'll see if there's any chance of a discount. But only before we count the stocked items.
Have a great 2019!