A few weeks ago, standing in a dark hallway with a group of kindergarten children, I began to think about endings. The tornado sirens were sounding, and we were in our positions, just in case. Even though I kept telling the kids, even after the lights went out, that everything was going to be okay, I kept thinking about all the things I had not yet finished, all the things not yet said. Did my kids know how much I love them? Does my husband know how I feel? Would my friends know all the things I wanted to share with them? What about my friends and family members? Had I shared the love of my Savior with them?
Harriet Beecher Stowe once commented, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” We have so many worries, so many concerns, so many things to do, and yet, the important things—our relationships with God and with others—often take a back seat. In John 15, Jesus tells us to love one another as He has loved us. He made the time count, teaching about his Father and developing relationships with those around him. He prepared his friends for his coming arrest and death, as well as his resurrection. And he made time for prayer and communication with His Father in heaven.
We are not guaranteed another day. In the parable of the rich fool, found in Luke, a man became so excited about his great harvest that he torn down his barns and built new ones. Unfortunately, that day he was appointed to meet his maker. Who would get the new barns and all the grain inside? Was the emphasis on his great wealth still as important when he passed over to the other side? “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).
Prioritizing our lives isn’t always easy. The tyranny of the urgent is always drawing us way from the things we truly need to do but just can’t seem to get done. What are those needful things? There are many, but because of space, I’ll list just a few here.
Make time for God. When Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to listen to his teachings, Martha complained that she wasn’t helping with the dinner preparations. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke10:41-42). There are many important things in our lives. The regrigerator needs to be cleaned. The children need to be fed. We need to go to work so we can pay our bills. Yet each of these things, as important as they are, must take a back seat to our relationship with God.
Make Time for Your Spouse. With the creation of Eve, God established the relationship of marriage. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two will become one flesh” Genesis 2:24. Throughout the Scriptures this relationship is cherished and set apart. Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” First Corinthians 7:4: “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” Ephesians 5:28: “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Make Time for Your Children. Many Bible verses talk about the importance of parent/child relationships, but two stand out specifically for me: Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21. Paul emphasizes the need for true relationships, ones that include children in the conversation. “Fathers,” he says in Colossians, “do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Again, in Ephesians he writes, “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” This guidance rules out the old “children are made to be seen and not heard” philosophy. Although we are the leaders, and we must set guidelines for our children, it is also important that we listen them and come to know and help them to become the unique individuals God has made them to be.
If the storm returns tomorrow, and like the rich man you are faced with your final day, will you have regrets for not accomplishing these things? Or will you have the peace of knowing that your priorities have been met? Read along next week as I continue this article.
Pastor Mary Kay