What’s REALLY Important?

 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. –Psalm 90:12 NIV

Music has been a part of my friend George’s life since he toured with a rock-and-roll band in the 1960s and early ’70s. In his seventies now, George still enjoys playing his bass guitar with an oldies band.

One day he and the band members visited their lead guitarist, Mark, who was in the home stretch of a terminal illness.

“We didn’t know that he would die the next day,” George told me. “We knew he was going to die, but we thought it might be in a month. We didn’t know. Nor did he.”

They got to talking about the best gig they ever played.

“It was that job that we did for those rich people, that served Oysters Rockefeller,” George said. “That was the most unbelievable delicious spread of food I’ve ever had.”

They laughed. “George, you would think about the food.”

“That gig down in Virginia Beach,” Randy said. “Remember the size of the crowd and the cheering? The money they paid us?”

Then Mark—who was going to die the next day—put in his two cents.

“Do you remember the gig we played at that little vineyard in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Remember how sweet the people were? And then at the end of the day, do you remember that spectacular sunset?”

“And I got to thinking,” George told me. “Was it the money? The crowds? The cheering? The food? Or was it the sweet people and the spectacular sunset that made the most impact on our lives?”

Too often we go through life trying to make a difference. We want our lives to count for something. So we spend our time on earth doing, doing, doing—all too often feeling like a hamster on an exercise wheel, going round and round but not getting anywhere. And wondering if, in the end, what we did mattered.

Or we spend our days getting, getting, getting all we can to make our lives easier, more enjoyable. Then one day we realize our homes and offices and vehicles are cluttered with stuff we thought we needed. So we rent storage place to put all that extra stuff we don’t need but we don’t want to part with.

Our sentiments echo those of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who pursued work, pleasure, wisdom, knowledge—in short, everything under the sun. Only to discover, in the end, it all was meaningless—“a chasing after the wind.”

So what, then, gives our lives meaning and purpose?

The crowds? The applause? The money? The things we can get with money? The food?

Or the people we encounter? The spectacular sunsets. Autumn in all its glowing glory. A soft snowfall. The first flower of spring. The smell of mowed grass on a summer’s day. The scent of a freshly bathed baby. The feel of a child’s arms around your neck. The sense of your spouse’s presence next to you when you wake up in the middle of the night. The explosion of flavor from the first tomato of the season. The roiling black clouds of a coming storm. Or the white cotton ball clouds that change shape as they float through the summer sky. Cloud shadows skimming across a field. The gurgle of a mountain stream. The whirr of a hummingbird’s wings.

I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I missed all that really mattered. All that God placed within my reach but I didn’t touch, taste, see, smell, listen to, enjoy. Everything that cost absolutely nothing but the time to stop and savor it.

What about you? What is the best gig you ever played?

Sunset in Smithport 8/23/2017
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Help me, O Lord, not to chase after the wind but to spend my days with my eyes and heart wide open, ready to recognize and embrace the simple pleasures You bless me with every day. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 90.

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Images of calendar and hamster are in pubic domain.

 

A Perfect Heart

 

I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. –Psalm 101:2 KJV

I came across this verse in my quiet time Thursday morning, and it stopped me in my tracks. I’ve learned when that happens – when a verse or a quote lodges itself in my mind – it’s time to SELAH!

Selah, by the way, means to pause and calmly think about what you just read. Actually the meaning of selah is unclear, but this is one of the proposed definitions and the one I prefer, perhaps because I need a reminder to slow down.

So let’s think about this verse.

First, “walk” in Scripture means the way you live your life – what you say, what you do, your actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings.

“Within my house” – now that’s a challenge. Because it’s “within my house” that I let my hair down, let my warts show, and unleash my tongue. It’s where I allow myself to vent, cry, and feel the emotions I shove down deep when I’m with other people but are simmering beneath the surface.

When I spill sugar on the counter or tea on the floor, for instance, my mouth will speak the frustration in my heart. I’m pressed for time because the day’s to-do list is longer than the day. I’m angry with myself because now I have to clean up the spill (perfectly, of course), and I. Don’t. Have. The. Time. It seems I’d rather have a perfectly clean kitchen than a perfectly clean heart.

Even though there’s no one around most of the time to hear me, my words reflect the condition of my heart, and that isn’t very pretty at times.

And so I pray, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

More often, though, I’m reminding myself to “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth …” (Ephesians 4:29).

“With a perfect heart” – now that’s downright scary. How can I ever achieve perfection? Only God is perfect. I’m like Isaiah when he saw the Lord “Woe is me! I am undone!” he exclaimed (Isaiah 6:5). In the presence of God’s perfect holiness, he felt the immensity of his own sinfulness.

Yet Jesus commands us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), and perfection begins in the heart, where our desires lie.

So, having a perfect heart begins with desiring one, wanting to be perfect as God wants us to be, and not shying away from a command we feel is impossible.

And so I pray, “Lord, give me the desires of my heart. Replace what I want with what You want me to want” (Psalm 37:4).

Sometimes I have to let go of that which He does not want me to want. I’m not talking only about the sinful stuff, but also the good stuff, such as serving Him.

Sometimes we cram our schedules with so much good stuff that it isn’t good anymore. It’s become “just one more thing” on a plate that is way too full. We’re so stretched out (and stressed out), we can’t give each task the time, energy, and focus it deserves because we’re in such a hurry to get it checked off and move on to the next one. Where’s the joy in that?

What’s in the heart is eventually going to come out in your words (Luke 6:45) and actions (Matthew 15:19). So, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

A perfect heart. Is it even possible?

Yes. God wouldn’t require something of us He isn’t going to help us to achieve (see 2 Peter 1:3).

Besides, we don’t obtain perfection on our own. Nor do we attain it in one fell swoop. It’s a process, a transformation that takes place over a lifetime from the inside out, with the work and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

A perfect heart – Selah!

Help me today, O Lord, to walk within my house with a perfect heart. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 101.

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Images in public domain.