Every day we are all confronted with a mountainous list of obligations – going to work, paying the bills, keeping the house in decent condition, constantly running here and there, etc., and for what? What is the drive behind our lists of ‘gotta dos?’ Is it God’s influence on our life, or is it us, and our need to keep up with the way this world deems necessary?
Before I go too much further, I need to try and head off any thoughts of completely changing the way we spend our time here on earth. I am not suggesting we all quit our jobs, stop paying our bills, or retiring our lawnmowers (as much as we may want to sometimes). All I am asking is that we take an honest look at our lives, and reflect on what really matters the most. Take an hour or two, and give it some sincere thought. Did your priorities change at all? If not, try it again. But, this time say a prayer first. Ask God to minister to your heart, and send the Holy Spirit to help open you up to His truth. I feel confident that you may see things differently the second time.
When I did this, God sort of made me a character in a short story (of what could be) of my own life. It went something like this…
I am driving to work on a beautiful fall morning. I notice the vibrant fall colors against the brilliant, crystal clear sky but I don’t take the time to really appreciate it let alone thank God for His awesome creation. No, my mind is focused on how good my life is. Work is going well. “I don’t know for sure yet, but I think I’ll be getting a nice promotion soon since my boss has been going out of his way to tout my latest design. I’ve been getting the attention of the senior v.p. too… No, it won’t be long. I can’t wait to be able to tell my wife that she doesn’t have to work anymore. My two boys will be thrilled too… no more being dragged out of bed in the morning to go to the babysitter. Maybe I should start planning a big vacation for us all to go on so I will be able to give my family that surprise on top of the news of my promotion. It will be the icing on the cake!” As I come to a stop sign, I take a quick glance to the left before taking my foot off the brake, punch the gas pedal and shoot to the right. Maybe I could surprise my wife with a new car too! She really likes blue…” Just then, I hear an explosion to my left. Glass is hitting me in the face but I can’t see anything. Then, blackness…
… I wake with a jolt. There is an oxygen mask on my face. I still can’t see. But, I know there are a lot of people around me. I can feel their hands on me and hear their voices. One of them is giving orders – a lot of medical terminology that I don’t understand. Someone else yells “I can’t get it stopped!” I feel the cool autumn air on my face, but I get the sensation that I’m laying in a warm, shallow wading pool, and the “water” is thick and sticky. I can’t seem to catch my breath. The voices are getting fainter and I don’t feel their hands on me anymore. “We can’t do anything else for him…” Are the last words I hear.
“My God… I am dying.” I feel a tear trickle down the side of my face… What REALLY matters now?
The reality of death is a sure way of burning away the chaff of our earthly lives. Most of us choose to live in the comfort of ignoring reality. Ignorance isn’t an accurate description of this state because we know better. We know our life will – at some point – come to an end. But, 99% of the time we choose to play the odds. We live with blinders on, believing we will grow old slowly, and gracefully with plenty of time to make peace with God and our loved ones. We sink all of our time and energy on “things”. We work overtime, and weekends to build up our 401k(s) while our kids are dumped at the sitter’s, or neighbors with no one to take them to church, or spend any real time with them. We fret about work and money. We are taught to fight, scrap, and claw our way to “the top” from the time we enter kindergarten. Rank and status are all that matter… crush anyone or anything who gets in your way. This is sadly the norm these days. Actually, it’s beyond sad. It is heart-wrenching and devastating.
So, what really matters the most? Ask God. He will help us see the truth, and He will open the doors to change. But, WE must decide to walk though those doors. I have prayed for change countless times in my life. After years of nothing changing, I asked God why he never answered my prayers. I guess I watched too much Star Trek growing up because I was expecting “beam me up” type experiences. God kindly (but firmly) reminded me He gave us all free will and a pair of legs. I suppose the old “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” adage kind of applies. God will bless you richly, and give you opportunities to change. But, He will not do it for you. Ask Him to show you what really matters, and He will open your eyes. Ask Him to give you the courage to change, and your heart will swell. Then, ask Him to give you the faith you need to take that first step, and you will walk.