What’s so important?
Reportedly, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
Those of us who remember when Dwight Eisenhower was president also recall the pace of life was slow motion compared to today. The 24 hour news cycle makes us aware of any problem anywhere in the world within minutes. In our own lives the cell phones we purchased to make our lives easier mean we are at the beck and call of anyone anytime. I wonder how many of the urgent calls we take would have faded to insignificant were we not constantly available.
My intent is not to rail against modern technology which has left us increasingly isolated as we turn away from each other to surf the internet, watch a movie on Netflix or play video games. I, too, have gone down the rabbit hole which is Facebook more times than I can count, clicking on a carefully crafted question that leads to a seemingly infinite number of ads before supplying the nearly always disappointing answer to the original question in which we lost interest long ago.
One of the things I came to cherish about my time as pastor inside the SD State Penitentiary was the absence of technology. Without cell phones or computers to distract, substantive conversations took the place of “50 times rude customers got their comeuppance” links on Facebook.
As coronavirus wound down the pace of life began to pick up again only to be put on hold by the recent flare up in cases. It is odd that something as terrible as coronavirus holds the fast paced lifestyle we both dread and yearn for at bay.
We had a taste of how it was when airline bookings skyrocketed (bad pun there) and social activities ramped up and we all began to resume our pre-covid lives before the resurgence forced us to pull back once again.
Autumn is upon us and soon Halloween will lead to Thanksgiving to Christmas and we will look up come January only to realize that once again the urgent had trumped the important, the trivial has overcome the substantive, and we have squandered rather than cherished the gift of time.
Of course, I am not writing to chide you, or even to encourage you, as much as I am writing to steel myself for the busy days which loom on the horizon. There are life events, birth, death, illness which strip away the veneer of the urgent to reveal what is truly important. Yet, we are too often quickly drawn back into our fast paced lives which enable us to numb the pain, deny the hurt and cover over the emptiness. The problem is not that this doesn’t work. The problem is that it does work…for a while. Ultimately it leaves us feeling more empty and alone than ever.
In Luke 12: 22-34 Jesus speaks about worrying telling his disciples: “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, …” concluding in verse 34: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I invite you to step back from the busyness of your life even as I struggle to do so myself. May all of us this day, bypass the trinkets and cherish the treasure of a life centered in God’s promises.