What’s Important

An ABC News story on Good Morning America a month of so back generated a lot of attention, and as you would probably expect, quite a bit of social media sarcasm. The story was about a mother whose child died when she left it in a hot car in Texas seven years ago, who now dedicates her life to preventing any more “hot car fatalities.”

The part of the story that got everyone’s attention was the reporter’s advice at the end to help parents avoid such a tragedy. She shared an acronym, which included a helpful hint for parents to put “something important” in the back seat with the child so you wouldn’t forget it, and included examples such as your cell phone, wallet, work badge or handbag.

And everybody who heard it turned their head like a dog hearing a high pitched sound and asked in unison, “Something important?”

I know it is hard to fathom a parent completely forgetting his or her child and leaving it in a hot car, though sadly it happens dozens of times a year in our country. And that is just those who have tragic outcomes that end up getting reported. No telling how many more times the parent or someone else remembers in time and rescues the child from serious hard, and no one ever hears about it.

And as much as I believe I would never do anything like that, I have done plenty of other absent-minded dumb things in my life, and we should all be careful not to say that could never happen to us. For that matter, I once left one of my children at Hardee’s, but that was because I didn’t do a head count when we left and only had five in my van. And I have never been able to live that down. (But, I must remind people that Jesus’ parents left Him in Jerusalem once, when He was twelve, and He turned out all right.)

I don’t want to make light of such a serious and tragic situation as the loss of a child, but that one “helpful hint” from the ABC reporter is what stood out, to me and millions of others Americans who responded: we should put something important with our child, so we don’t forget our child–as if the child in and of itself is not important. 

If you need to leave your phone or wallet with your child so you don’t forget the child, you probably ought not to be parenting anyway. More than anything, that suggests a mixed up set of priorities, if your phone or wallet is what you can’t do without. Lord, help us if we have allowed either to move ahead of our children in our “what’s important” list.

On a similar note, I saw a pretty funny tweet a few weeks back, that had a similar sentiment. It was a .gif of someone with a whimsical or confused look on his face, who was supposed to be a pastor, and the caption read: “When you realize there are always a bunch of Bibles in the lost and found but never any cell phones…” Ouch!
Okay, so here’s the deal. What is it that is really important to you? That is, what are your priorities? Not just what you say they are, but what your life says they are? Are your children more important than your phones or wallet, and I’m not just talking about which ones you leave in the car, but which ones you give the most attention to? And, is it easier for you to get by if you lose your Bible than if you lost your phone?
Most importantly, I hope your first priority is to “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” trusting that everything else will fall into place after that. That’s how you truly understand what’s important.

On a personal note, thanks so much for your prayers for me in the week ahead, as I face surgery for my prostate cancer. We appreciate all the love and support you have shared with our family over the past few months, and we are so grateful for each of you.