Where do you get your inspiration? For me, deep thoughts come while walking on a nature trail, in devotion time with coffee before the dawn, and oddly enough, in the shower! The other day, in that hot water, three memories came to me. I realized through the connection between these three thoughts that God was saying, “This is what really matters in life according to the Bible. Don’t stray from it.
So I want to share with you what I heard.
God desires for us to discover “our best life.” He wants us to finally know what is most important in life and what can be cast aside, or at least, be put “lower on our list.”
Love and Relationships Matter Most
God brought to my attention, yet again, how much loving relationships matter. They need nurture and attention above all else. The way He did this was to bring to my mind something that happened years ago. Our daughter was only 4 years old.
My husband and I had made a plan for me to drive our two children to St. Louis so that we could meet him. He was giving a seminar there for his business. We were to meet and then have a fun weekend.
I desperately wanted to get out of town and “do something.” Raising two young children, keeping the house, teaching music, church volunteer work, and so on made me feel restless. I wanted to be refreshed. A change of scenery, fun, light-heartedness sounded so inviting. Eating out would also be a pleasure!
We Almost Lost What Matters Most
As I talked with my husband by phone about the trip, he mentioned that it was going to snow. Should I cancel the trip? I replied that the snow was way west of us. It would not be a problem and I was still resolved to head to St. Louis – several hours of driving.
I packed up my little boy and girl, 6 and 4, and put them in the back seat with a small portable tv running on a battery. After we had driven for a while, I noticed the snowflakes beginning to come down, just lightly at first.
It was not long before the snow was coming down full force. The windshield kept icing over. “Oh Lord,” I thought. “What a fool I am! For a brief respite out of town, I have put us in real jeopardy. I glanced over my shoulder at my sweet kids so trusting in their mama. On we rolled on increasingly icy roads.
Well, we made it. Praise God! But, not due to a good decision!
Our Little Daughter Became Separated From Us
The real scare came when we went to the Union Station to browse in the shops. While in a nature store, we did not pay sharp attention, and, in a blink, our 4 year old daughter was gone.
We were scared to death. Union Station is a huge place. It was swarming with people and our daughter was missing. My husband remained in the nature store and our son stayed with him in case our little girl reappeared there. I rushed to the Disney Store as we had talked about it and seen it the night before.
I’m happy to say she was there. To this day, I can remember the overwhelming joy and relief of finding her safe. She was just being our impatient group leader! (Like her mother!)
The Lord brought this to mind – a reminder that there are so many voices and distractions (the noisy, bustling Union Station). There are so many things that seem as if they would bring pleasure and relief (getting away for the weekend). But the thing that mattered most, the thing that matters most is loving and being with the ones we love. God said to me yet again, “Don’t get side-tracked from what matters most in life.”
“Your family. Cherish your life with them. They are among the most precious gifts I give you.”
The Gospel and The Word Matter Most
Some years after the episode I just described, I was a pastor serving churches. As part of our commitment and connection to the larger network of pastors with whom we served, we would meet together from time to time. The leaders’ retreat that I remembered took place in Missouri at a place called Tan-Tar-A.
As I sat in the meetings listening, attempting to be respectful, I suddenly found my heart yearning for something so much deeper. I quietly stepped out of the meeting, went back to my room, and began to pore over my Bible, reflecting on the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That “God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) I had a powerful experience of God’s presence with me in that moment.
I feel the Lord brought this to mind the other day to say, “Knowing Me. Believing Jesus. Walking in My Spirit. Nothing else is as important as this and loving others, especially your family.” But you must share this gospel with as many as you can. This also is most important!
The Things That Truly Matter are Basic
The third thought that came to me in that steamy environment of the shower was about apple pie. Yes, I know that sounds odd – remembering our lost daughter, a powerful spiritual moment at a professional retreat, and – apple pie! What’s the connection?
I thought of apple pie which is one of my specialties. I’ve baked them ever since I was a young girl, making them the way all my “grannies” have before me. There are even three shafts of wheat carved into the top crust for the steam to escape – the way the women in my family have always done it.
Changing Things Isn’t Always for the Good
Of late, I found myself looking at apple pie recipes – “well, they add nutmeg,” I’ve mused, and “this one says put lemon juice on the apples.” So, I have experimented thinking I could make my pies even better.
But, each time, I’ve found the innovations do not add anything. The way I’ve always made the pies has produced the most delicious pies.
So, God spoke to me through this too. I heard Him say, “There are basic things that matter. Novelty is fun but not essential.
Many are trying to improve on the basic ways of connecting with Me. But the ancient ways are still the tried and true paths. Prayer and scripture. Trust and obey. Wait on Me. Listen for My voice.”
Resource: How and Why Should I Study the Bible
Two Verses That Tell Me What Matters Most
So, I heard God’s voice telling me, this is what matters: faith and family; 1) building that faith with basic things like constant prayer and treasuring His word, and 2) cherishing the family with love and watchful protection. I know we don’t all have family that looks the same. Some who read this may be single. But there are people God gives us as a gift and loving them meaningfully is more important than fame or self-indulgence.
And those memories and thoughts, brought to mind by God the other day, lead me to close with these two verses. They put, in a nutshell, what is most important in life:
Sometimes – and this is so important – we all get swept up in thinking “I’m not enough, I haven’t done enough.” And, in that state of mind, we grasp at things that we think will be meaningful – gaining more attention and fame, looking better, have more stuff, trying something new. The world badgers us with false values.
But, God is good to break in with His voice and remind us what matters: 1) Knowing Him, 2) Having the assurance of eternal life that only He can grant, 3) Cherishing precious loved ones and loving them well. Everything else pales. If you have God, faith and love, you have succeeded.
What You Will Not Say When You Die
As I was gathering my own thoughts about sharing this, I read an article called Shifting Focus to What Really Matters in Life by Jennifer Rollin. You can read it here. She mentioned an article by Bronnie Ware, in which Ware spoke of the most common regrets that she heard from people dying as she worked in palliative care. Ware’s article is here. But here’s her list of top five regrets. The people said, “I wish I’d:
- Had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
- Not worked so hard.”
- Had the courage to express my feelings.”
- Stayed in touch with my friends.”
- Let myself be happier.”
Certainly, those are things that many regret.
But, chief among regrets will be this one, if true: “I wish I had received Jesus into my heart by faith.” Above everything else this matters most – believing that Christ died for the sins of the whole world, that He loves us so much, and then taking Him into your own heart by faith.
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