Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Important Things

(Photo taken at Botanica, Wichita, Kansas)

God wants you to know that your remedy for anxiety is the question: "Will this matter a year from now?" All too often, you get so involved in things that you look at life through a microscope. Amplifying manifold, an invisible speck becomes an insurmountable mountain. Put down the microscope and imagine yourself a year from now looking back at today. Does it really matter?

It was another Message from God via Facebook that stopped me in my tracks.

I admit it: I'm a worrier.

I know the Bible tells me I shouldn't be. And I'm working on it. Truly I am, even though I sometimes think it's something I will be working on until my dying day. Randy tells me if I don't have something "real" to worry about, I come up with something.

Like a kaleidoscope, life shifts and changes quickly. So how about that Message from God? Will what I'm worried about today really matter a year from now?

It was a message I tried to share with some high school graduates this past Sunday. I was asked to do the program for the youth dinner at Stafford United Methodist Church.

What can a woman of a certain age share with a couple of 18-year-olds who are ready to kick off the dust of a little town and find their wings?

Believe me, I added that niggling worry to my list of things to contemplate last week. (Hey, maybe I'll call my musings "contemplations" instead of "worries." On second thought, I don't think semantics will fool God.)

But I rediscovered an essay I hoped would provide an illustration for the graduates, as well as serve as a reminder for the rest of us. And, somehow, I thought I might be on the right track when the Message from God popped up on a friend's Facebook page.

Here's the essay. You may have heard it before, or it may have been one of those chain emails you deleted. But it seemed to be the right "fit" for the occasion:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ” I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

"The golf balls are the important things in life. Your God, your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions: things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.

"The sand is everything else: the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

"Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean house and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the golf balls first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.

Obviously, I had to revise the message just a little bit. These graduates don't have children yet. They aren't too worried about medical appointments or cleaning the house or mundane tasks like that.

But, as for any program, you hope it's a reminder for other people in the audience, too. And even the person giving the program could learn a thing or two.

To remind them of the message, I gave them a golf ball in a small glass candle holder. Maybe they'll put it on a shelf in their dorm room. Maybe they'll toss it in a drawer.

But I hope they'll remember the basic message: Make time for the important things in life.

I also gave each of them a coffee mug to remind them to take time for friends. I have no idea whether either of them drink coffee. But I figure they like candy. So I also included this message:

When you are in a CRUNCH
Between and beTWIX a rock and a hard place
Feeling as far away as the MILKY WAY
Remember that friends are priceless
Worth even more than
100 GRAND.

I told them to remember that friends at the church would always be there to pray for them, celebrate with them, cry with them, be with them.

I hope they take me up on the offer.

So, did the program giver learn anything along the way?

Put down the microscope and imagine yourself a year from now looking back at today. Does it really matter?
(Photo taken at the Wichita Garden Show)

The kaleidoscope shifts and changes. The pattern is unpredictable. But there's beauty in the midst of change.

Huh ... maybe the program giver DID learn something after all.

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