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Monday, August 17, 2009

What is Important?

The story is told of a Native American and a friend who were visiting New York City. During lunch hour they were walking down Broadway, with its cacophony of noise from people talking, the tread of their footsteps as they rapidly walked down the street, the roar of traffic whizzing by and the horns honking. Suddenly the Native American said “Listen. I hear a cricket”. His friend replied, “How can you hear a cricket above all this noise?” Insisting that he had heard a cricket chirping, he crossed the street to a planter, looked inside and found a cricket. His friend queried him again. “How on earth could you have heard a cricket? You couldn’t have heard anything as small and insignificant as that with all this noise!” Whereupon the Native American reached into his pocket, pulled out several coins and dropped them on the sidewalk. Immediately everyone within twenty feet stopped, turned and looked. Turning to his friend he said, “It all depends on what you consider to be important.”

It all depends on what we consider to be important! As we go through life we are faced with many demands on our time, our priorities, our faith and our money. Many times we often say what we consider to be important. It is easy to say that our church, our faith or our family is of utmost importance to us, yet we may often ignore them. We may say that the Bible is important to us, but never find time to read it. We may say that our family is important to us, while spending all of our time at work and never attending our children’s events. To what extent do we live up to what we say? Many of the passersby in the story above, rushing on their way to important meetings, luncheon engagements, etc. showed what was really important when they heard the coins clinking on the sidewalk. How often do we do the same? Our actions may belie our words. We may say one thing and do another.

When we do so we become hypocrites. We are no better than the Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus’ day. Their actual practices confirmed a much different picture than did their stated beliefs. While declaring their great faith, they sought as many loopholes as possible to avoid actually practicing it. Unfortunately, we can easily find ourselves living our lives much as they did.

But the story of hearing the cricket has another point as well. It is only when we are tuned to hear that we can actually hear. A group of mothers can be talking on a playground while their children play. Suddenly one of the mothers will state “My child is crying”. None of the other mothers heard the crying. But if it was their own child, they would have heard the cry. Their ear was tuned to the voice of their child. The ear of the Native American was tuned to hear the still small voice of the cricket over the noise, while the ear of his friend was not. We live in a world which has as much spiritual cacophony as the physical cacophony experienced on the streets of New York. The roar can be quite deafening. There are constant demands to pull us away from God. The secular culture in which we live is not tuned to hear spiritual things. We will hear the things that are truly important to us. Are our ears tuned to hear the still small voice of God above the din of life? Are you listening to his voice?

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