By Loren Hardin –
My neighbor, Roger, and I had a backyard, over the fence, conversation like Tim the Tool Man had every week with his neighbor, Wilson (“Home Improvement” TV series, 1991-1999). Roger didn’t say, “Hi ho neighbor!”, but he did ask, “What’s going on?” I told Roger, “I’m thinking about having the tree cut down. It’s huge! It’s probably about 70-feet tall, and if a wind ever blows it over it would do some serious damage no matter what direction it falls. But on the other hand, I hate to cut it down. I like the looks of it and I would really miss the shade, but it’s taking over the whole yard. The swimming pool is completely shaded by two o’clock in the afternoon and the water is so cold I never get in.” Then Roger responded in typical “Wilson” fashion, “So Loren, what you are telling me is that you are missing out on the best things in your yard for that?”.
We sometimes miss out on the “best things” because we don’t want to let go of the sure things, the familiar and comfortable things. We resist change because there’s a false sense of security in the familiar. I’m reminded of the lyrics of the song, “What if I Gave Everything”, by Casting Crowns: “All my life I longed to be a hero, my sword raised high running to the battle. So why am I still standing here? Why am I still holding back from You? I hear you calling me out into deeper waters, but I settle on the shallow end. But I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to look back some day, on a life that never stepped across the line. I’m still playing in the sand, building little kingdoms that will never stand.” Oswald Chambers wrote, “Be careful of harking back to what you once were when God wants you to become something you’ve never been” (“My Utmost for His Highest”, June 8.)
Every coin has two sides, and on the flip side, sometimes the “best things” are right under our noses, but we miss out on them because we overlook them. The Eagles song, “Desperado” says it well: “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses, you’ve been out riding fences for so long now. Now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table, but you only want the ones that you can’t get, come down from your fences, open the gate. You better let someone love you before it’s too late.” Hugh Prather wrote, “If I had only forgotten visions of future greatness and looked at the green things and the buildings and reached out to those around me and smelled the air and ignored the forms and self-styled obligations and heard the rain on the roof and put my arms around my wife. “ (“Notes to Myself”)
Martha and Mary were sisters and Jesus was coming to their home to visit; as the story goes: “Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His words. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part… (Luke 10: 37-42). It’s easy to miss out on the “good part”, the “best things”, when we get too busy doing other things.
Try if you will, but we can’t have “the best of both worlds”. We have to choose. Lysa TerKeurst, in her book, “The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands”, exhorts us to make wise choices, because, “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances. Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less. The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul. So, this isn’t just about finding time. This is about honoring God with the time we have.”
I know I’ve thrown a plethora of quotes and song lyrics at you, but I did so in the hope that something will hit home, will resonate with you, that you might not miss out on the “best things” in your yard. If this column impacted you in some way I invite you to email your testimonies to me.
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at (740) 357-6091 or at email@example.com. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.