Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6: 25-33 (ESV)
So, after reading that familiar passage scripture, I’ve got to ask myself—what’s important? What are we worrying about? What are you focusing on? What are you seeking?
It’s 55 degrees, and the air is dry. It’s great outside—breezy, crisp, beautiful blue skies high above. Fall has arrived. It’s getting darker earlier in the evening. It’s a reinvigorating and renewing time.
So what’s important on a day like today? What will bring meaning and fulfillment and purpose to our lives and the lives of others?
Maybe you’re thinking of the office, and if you get a promotion, a raise or the corner office with the view. Maybe if one of your children gets an A in class, or is accepted to graduate school.
Maybe what’s important is a new position, and new opportunity, or maybe instead, you might be wondering if you’ve done all you can do, lifted all the lives you can around you, to be all you can be where God has planted you.
In all of those situations, Christ’s words in the scripture passage we read above tell us that we will find the answers to all of the questions and situations by focusing our sights and hearts on what it is most important in life. And we won’t find it in what the world says is important.
I wonder how many of you remember the TV show “Frasier” from a few years ago. Frasier was the show’s leading character, and as a radio talk show host in Seattle, he attempts to offer folks who call into the show, advice for the living of their lives, usually coming out of his training as a psychiatrist.
Yet during each show, his own human frailties, his own struggles with the “important” vs. “unimportant” or “urgent” priorities of life are always exposed. Although his advice to others is usually sound, he fails to follow it in his own life, and so he is constantly adrift in worry about trivial things, urgent things, and about things that don’t matter. In his struggles, he continually casts aside what is really important and lasting in his life, by clinging to the secular, the material, the “urgent & unimportant” matters on which the world places value—meaningless value.
Frazier’s mom had died years earlier; and when that occurred, Frasier’s Dad came to live with Frasier in Seattle, in his upscale high-rise apartment with a panoramic view of the city below.
The show usually finds his Dad sitting in his really old and dilapidated, worn-out chair, which seems to be part vinyl and part fabric. It’s got a few holes where the filler is coming out from inside, and a generous application of silver duct tape has be used to help keep the filler in and to help the chair hold its shape and be usable.
And then one day, out of his own sense of what he thinks is important and best, Frasier replaced his dad’s chair, unbeknownst to his father, with a beautiful new recliner, with all the bells and whistles, including a heater & massage element. Rather than a “thank you,” his dad blew up. Frazier, of course, naively thought his dad would be happy, and didn’t understand his response. And so after his dad had finished venting his frustration, Frazer responded, clearly not understanding anything his dad was feeling, by saying—”But, dad, it was only a chair.”
And then as the story continues to unfold, we learn that, of course, it was so more than—just a chair. It was the center point of some of his Dad’s best memories of those important people and events that made his life full.
“It was only a chair,” where he watched some of the great moments of history and sports in his life; where he held his son, Frasier, for the first time after he was born; where his wife could always find him having fallen asleep watching the news, and rescue him from the drone of the television, and encourage him to come to bed.
“It was only a chair,” that was alive with all the memories of precious moments; memories of priorities set right in his life; memories of a life centered on the “important” rather than the “urgent” things of life.
“It was only a chair,” but it was so much more than that. For Frazier’s Dad it was the benchmark and a source of comfort, against which he measured his victory over all those things that tried to pull him away from the “important” people, “important” moments, that God had entrusted to him—and that God has entrusted to us.
“It was only a chair,” but it was a loud and clear reminder to all of the important things in life, that bring all the fullness in life that God has to offer each of us. A reminder to us, too, of our own responsibility, of our call to serve Him and to serve others, to make memories with God and with the “important” people, and in all the important moments that God has placed in our lives.
In the scripture passage from Matthew we read earlier, Jesus very clearly reminds us of our priorities when He says:
“Do not be anxious for tomorrow, do not be anxious for your life, [but trusting in God]…but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
The message to you and me today—seek first the important things in life. Seek first the things that matter. Seek first the chair that may have filler coming out of it, and is being held together with duct tape.
Don’t set aside the important things of life to pursue the new, the brighter, and the shinier, the bigger, the “grass is greener” things, which the world says are better, and which really don’t matter, when compared with the important things and people of your life.
Which priorities are you following in life? Are you following the important, or are you following the unimportant and the urgent?
What voices out there are you listening to? The loud voices of worldly priorities and expectations, or the still quiet voices of God—and the voices of those who love you.
What are the important things in your life, that are being set aside while you pursue the urgent, and the unimportant things of life?
What are you setting aside that is really important, to pursue what isn’t?
And the message from Christ to you and to me is this—
“Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness,
and all those things will be given you.”
Seek first the things that matter. Seek first the important things in life. That’s the message for you and me for every day of our lives.
And the question for you then today is this—Are you doing that? What are you after—the important or the unimportant?
Just something to think about today and every day—for the rest of our lives.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2014. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.