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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: First (as in original) (01/10/05)

TITLE: TGIF -- First Things First
By Al Boyce


I started a new job to start off this year. It's one of maybe a dozen jobs I've had dating back to when I was 16 and exulted in making minimum wage washing dishes at a local college. But circumstances conspired to make this first day on the job quite different from all those other first days.

I still had the same butterflies, performance anxiety, wanting to make a good first impression. But more than ever, I found myself thinking about why God had led me to this job and what He might have in store for me.

What really brought this idea home was my re-immersion into the all-too-familiar American world of TGIF. I wasn't there two hours before I'd heard several colleagues say, 'Is it Friday yet?' Or 'I can't believe it's only Monday!'

I mulled the acronym over in my head: Thank God It's Friday. And I wondered what God would think of that praise report, which basically laments 5/7 of the week.

Is it that we don't like work? Or just that we long for whatever it is we do on weekends, which could range from wild partying to family time to Bible study. Somehow, I didn't feel God intended us to feel that way.

As I went through that week, more signs came my way. I heard a sermon at a church I visited that voiced it this way: "Do you wake up on Monday saying, 'Good morning Lord!' or is it more like 'Good Lord, it's morning?'"

The rest of the sermon focused on the idea of putting first things first -- prioritizing our lives. And here is the pastor's analogy:

A man had a large jar. He filled it with a bunch of pebbles, right up to the brim and asked onlookers whether it was full.

"Sure," they said. "Looks full to us."

He pour in some gravel, and it slid around the pebbles, filling the chinks.

"Is it full now?" he asked.

This time the onlookers were more cautious.

"Maybe," they said.

The man then poured in a good bit of water, which filtered around the gravel and pebbles before rising to the top.

Now it was surely full.

The man pulled out a good-sized rock and said, "Now, how am I going to get that in this jar?"

The only answer was: Put it in FIRST.

In many of our lives, the rock that we have forgotten is God. We wish we had the foresight to put God into the jar first, thinking of what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18 in a new light: "And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

Unfortunately, if we want to get that rock into our lives, we must empty ourselves of all that other "stuff" first. And, miraculously, we will find that it flows quite nicely around it when we pour it back in -- except for the stuff we probably shouldn't have allowed in the first place.

That brings us back to the TGIF mentality. I wondered what scripture had to say on this tendency to moan and groan about work.

I looked at Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Then there was Ephesians 4:28: "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need."

And what about 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12? "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

But I guess the real kick to me was Christ himself.

If ever a man had the right to say, "Thank God it's Friday," it surely was Him.

And a short poem came to me that seemed to wrap these thoughts together:

"Life's too short," says one man
Yet he's well past 33
"To live is Christ," said another
Buried in antiquity

"Thank God it's Friday!" shouts a woman
Who gaily lifts her glass
"Thank God it's Friday," smiled Jesus
And breathed His last.

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This article has been read 1463 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight01/17/05
Great thoughts! I really liked the way you concluded the piece.
Sally Hanan01/17/05
Well put together and I liked the ending too.
Kathy Cartee01/17/05
Good thoughts and I agree the ending is great
Tesiri Moweta01/18/05
You made me laugh with this piece but you also spoke the truth.
Well written.Quite entertaining, and revealing; who ever said TGIF with the cross in mind before?
Thanks for teaching. Keep winning and shining for Jesus.
Melanie Kerr 01/19/05
The peom at the end was brilliant - particularly the last line. I like the whole teaching about putting Jesus first. From a writing standpoint, seeing as it is submitted at advanced level - "But" and "And" do not usually start a sentence. I think the sentences without them still make sense.
Annette Agnello01/20/05
Deborah Anderson01/22/05
This really was a great article for teaching. I enjoyed it. God bless you.
L.M. Lee01/23/05
nice twist on a common phrase