The Important vs The Urgent

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“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
                                 Matthew 6:33
     Thursday morning before I turned to my sermon, Gordy and I made a trip to the grocery store to stock up for the coming storm.  We went at the start of the day hoping to avoid the crowds.  Imagine our surprise to find the store almost deserted.  There was hardly anyone else shopping.  Now I know that many people were at work and others were still getting elementary aged children off to the school bus, but the store was practically empty!  I could’t understand it.
     Later that morning, Gordy went out to pick up a few more things.  He mentioned to the owner at one store how few people seemed to be out stocking up, and the owner provided what he thought was the reason – procrastination.  He said, “Wait until the end of the workday.  This store will be mobbed tonight.  People just wait till the last minute!”
     There was a whole day before the snow was forecast, so I guess people had other things that seemed more important – Thursday’s work or kids’ schedules.  But woe to the person who waited too long and discovered empty shelves without bread or milk on Friday afternoon.  They’d be hard pressed to provide for themselves or their family if the storm turns out to be as severe as forecast.
     Too often, we allow our priorities to be set by what’s next on the calendar instead of asking ourselves what’s most important.  In the words of Steven Covey, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”  (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)  We allow ourselves to be dominated by things that are in truth less important but appear to be urgent because they are due sooner rather than later.  But sometimes, the things we are caught up doing prove to be relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, focusing on the near at hand deadlines can lead us to overlook what is truly important.
     Our faith life is like that.  For most of us, life seems to stretch out before us for years to come.  End of life concerns are things we think we can put off for some other day. “There’s time to nurture my relationship with God later,” we think, turning instead to address the “urgent” things in our life, things that are happening now.  But isn’t our eternal salvation one of the most important things in our life?  Isn’t our relationship with God the most important relationship we have? Which will be more important in eternity – that we squeezed in one more phone call for work, or that we set aside five minutes to spend with God.  Don’t put off doing the things that will draw you nearer to God; don’t delay!  This is the day to ask God to be a regular part of your life, and commit to growing in your faith.

     Prayer:  Patient and forbearing God, you want me to be in a close relationship with you, but too often I put you off, letting other needs eat up my time, consume my focus and move me away from you.  Open my eyes to your presence in my life. Open my heart to seek you every day in prayer, in Scripture and in my actions.  Help me to put your kingdom first, and to let your will be the guide to ordering all the rest of my life.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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