Evening found me rummaging through the swim bags. Shampoo. Check. Conditioner. Check. Lotion. Check…
My boys and I had decided to participate in the earliest lane swim at the local YMCA the following morning, and I knew that if I waited until morning to get the swim bags ready, we would be bound to forget something.
Goggles. Check. Towels and swimsuits…
Here I ran into a little problem: One of the towels didn’t smell good. It was still wet, and worse, a wet swimsuit was rolled up inside. Obviously my son hadn’t hung up his suit and towel after the last swim meet!
I threw the towel in the washer and got another one to replace it. The swimsuit was a different story, however. My son didn’t have another suit! But a quick sniff assured me that it had been the towel, not the suit, that stank. No problem! I would simply hang it up, and by morning, it would be good to go.
Upon arriving at the pool the next morning, I bustled into the lady’s change room to prepare for my swim, then I hurried out onto the pool deck to meet my boys. But there was only one of them there, and he had a funny expression on his face…
“What?” I asked.
“Mom,” he said, rather sheepishly, “We only got here with one swimsuit!”
Instantly I remembered: The swimsuit that I had put out to dry the night before was still hanging on the rail! How could I have been so careful to prepare everything – The conditioner, the goggles, the shampoo – and miss the most important item of all: The swimsuit???
In all reality, this is very typical behavior for me. I am so good about taking care of details, yet I so often neglect the important things. At home, for example, I tend to be very task oriented, yet I forget that relationships are what matter the most.
Work is no different. As a Speech Pathologist in a hospital setting, I bustle about doing swallowing assessments and observing meals, but I tend to overlook the fact that my patients may be sitting in wet attends, or maybe they are really tired out from physiotherapy or from being in a wheelchair for too long. Or worse, these dear souls are often lonely or depressed, even angry. What they often need the most is just to talk! Am I overlooking that as well???
My relationship with God is no different. I’m good about going to church, reading my Bible, having worship with my kids, but do I make God the centre of my life? My plans? My relationships? My hobbies? Do I work on that all-important relationship, or has it all become simple religion for me?
And then there’s the whole area of “good deeds”. Paul tells us: “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:3 NIV) Yet how often don’t I do these things out of a sense of duty? Where is the love that should accompany these actions?
Jesus spoke of something very similar: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matt 23:23 NASU)
Pretty humbling, isn’t it? Remember God’s message to Israel, spoken through the prophet Isaiah?
“‘The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?’ Says the Lord. ‘I have more than enough of burnt offerings,of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats… Stop bringing meaningless offerings!… Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isa 1:11-17 NIV)
We did all swim that morning. My boys took turns in the one and only swimsuit. But the next time a trip to the pool was planned, my son personally checked on his swimsuit before we left! Let’s all remember this lesson the next time we are tempted to be task-oriented: Let’s remember not to pay so much attention to the “mint and dill and cummin”, the mundane details that seem so important; rather, let’s remember to attend to the “weightier provisions of the law JUSTICE and MERCY and FAITHFULNESS”! Let’s remember the relationships and the physical and emotional needs; let’s do things out of love, not a sense of duty; and most of all, let’s work on our personal relationship with God!
Remember: God doesn’t want our sacrifices. He wants our hearts!
Lyn Chaffart , Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems http://www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries http://www.Answers2Prayer.org