Before he passed away, Charles Krauthammer wrote a book entitled Things That Matter. Oh, how I miss that man with his wit and wisdom. I wonder what he would say about our current state of affairs, being locked down as we fight off the deadly and costly Corona Virus. I find myself frequently thinking about those words, “things that matter.” What really matters in these days?
There have been many blessings hidden among the horrors of this pandemic we are enduring. We are spending more time with family, we are praying more, we are reaching out to friends, and we are resting. Resting from all our frantic activity that distracts us from enjoying the most valuable aspects of this life we are given. One of the things I have noticed in my own life is how many times during the day I tell myself, “That really doesn’t matter.”
This virus is helping me to tease out the important from the unimportant…or the less important. Things that I thought were really important are really not any more. We gave up our vacation rental because we are not going to be able to take out family beach vacation this year. But that is not nearly as important as having a healthy intact family. A vacation, while nice, is just not that important. My hair and nails could use some attention, but I am learning to make do. I don’t plan to rush into a nail salon the minute they reopen. Because it’s not important. An entire season of pretty spring clothes is going to come and go. Because where would I wear them? I look around at my house and think it could do with some updating, but it’s not really important. If some knickknack is out of place, I may or may not adjust it. Because it doesn’t matter. Fortunately, I still have some Charmin, but if I run out the world won’t come to an end. I have even heard some talk about not having football in the fall. Whoa!!! Now that matters!
Joking aside, I’ve noticed this “not important” thing even in my thought life. I am letting go of some things that have bothered me in the past. Old hang-ups? Not important. Past slights? Letting them go. In fact, I am even finding them laughable. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I am beginning to give grace to those who withhold grace from me. Because you know what else is not important? Me!
Letting go of the things that don’t matter is making room for the things that do. Every morning my first thought upon awakening is, “Thank you, Lord for protecting me through the night.” I check in with my children to make sure they are all alive and well. Preserving life matters. Not only has my prayer life improved, but our prayer life as a couple has vastly improved. We have developed a new prayer system. Every day we especially pray for a specific family member. And God is telling us how to pray for each one of them. I have more time to spend in God’s word. I am writing notes and making phone calls. Jerry and I laugh more (and when necessary, we socially distance)! And I am appreciating life. I am more grateful. Grateful for the big things and the small.
Lives matter, and those who work to save lives matter. Our medical professionals who are on the front line matter as well as the hospital cleaning staff who work behind the scenes. Those who work at “essential” businesses matter. It matters that people are dying alone and that numbers are so great that they are being buried in mass graves. Smaller things matter too. It matters that I can’t go to church or hug my grandchildren. It matters that children can’t go to school, that college campuses are empty, that proms and graduations have been cancelled. These are all important things.
Charles Krauthammer would say the thing that matters most is politics, that we must secure life, liberty, and the right to pursue happiness before any of the other things we enjoy can come to be. While I understand his thoughtful argument, and while I would agree that politics is vitally important, I don’t think it is the most important. Because politics is subordinate to God. The Scriptures tell us that God holds the heart of the king in His hands, and He can turn it any way He wants (Prov. 21:1). He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars (Dan. 2:21). Therefore the things that are important to God must be the things that are important to me. Jesus taught that loving God and loving my neighbor are the most important. If we master those, everything else will fall into place.
This Corona virus is important! But even it is subservient to the power of God. In my Bible study we are digging into the book of Malachi. Twenty-four times Malachi refers to God as The Lord of Hosts. He is Commander in Chief of the armies of heaven. He could unleash them against this virus and it would be gone in a heartbeat. And yet, He delays.
I am wondering if He is giving us this time out, this global shutdown, to determine what is really important. We keep asking when things will return to normal but maybe that is the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking what God wants our new normal to be. How does He want me to live now and in a post Corona world? What things really matter?