By Dr. Mike Murphy
Life is truly an adventure, and I am amazed at all I continue to learn each day. Today, as I had to go to a doctor’s appointment, I learned just how little I know, just how ignorant I really am (and no, I do not need overwhelming agreement from the peanut gallery!) I realized that a word I thought I understood well, I really did not understand at all. That word? Essential!
Recently, our state set mandatory standards for businesses being open due to the risk of the Coronavirus. And in doing so, asked all businesses to close that were not seen as essential.
As I headed to the doctor’s appointment, I expected to see almost everything closed. Almost every business I passed, I anticipated seeing the lights off, and the doors locked. But what I saw shocked me, as an uncountable amount of businesses were open, lights fully on, and welcoming all in.
I quickly learned that so many more things were “essential” than my mind could begin to realize. From the pet store, to the cable outlet location, to the mattress store, to the fitness center, to the golf driving range, I discovered that each of these are now considered “essential”.
During this same time, I also noticed that a fellow pastor now considered himself “essential”. Deciding to open the doors of his church as normal. Defying the request for organized meetings to cease for a short period, in order for people to not be put at an unnecessary risk. And as I read his statement of why he decided to keep his church services opened to the public physically, I saw all the “I’s” and the “me’s” that filled the words of his response. Leaving him saying, “It’s not about everybody else’s faith, it’s about my faith, it’s my conviction,”. Evidently having come to the conclusion that people hearing him speak live each Sunday morning and Wednesday night was, “essential”.
As I thought about all this, I decided to reach for my dictionary. In the hope it would bring to me a little clarity as to what the word, “essential” actually means. As I looked up the word, it defined “essential” as, “of the utmost importance; something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable”. So as I thought about this definition, I began to ask myself, what in my life is actually “essential”?
Essential is not found in what I want. Essential is found in what I need, in what I cannot live a day of my life without.
Essential is not found in what the words politicians look to promise me, or in the words that reporters on the nightly news might look to use to inform me. As I can live each of my days without what a single one of those words says. But what I cannot live without is what His Word says to me, what He looks to speak to me. As essential is only found as I read His Word, as I look to the very One I cannot live a single moment of my life without.
The reality of all we see around us today shows us, as a society, we have come to describe “essential” as what we think we want, not in what the Lord is showing us we need. A society that no longer knows the difference between a want and a need, as it thinks everything we want is exactly what we need most.. That thinks “essential” is seen in how it makes us feel, not in the necessary reality it brings. ”If it feels good, do it”, has become the “essential” motto we put forward each day.
Scripture tells me, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (Psalm 118:8). Essential words that should be at the tip of my tongue each day. Words that do not leave me living on each word I might hear the government or the media speaking to me. Or words society might tell me will place a “happy feeling” in me. But words that leave me grounded as I look to Him each day to guide me. Words that continue to speak to me, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20).
His Word essentially leaves me prepared to face the chaos of the situation I see this day all around me. Words that leave me with the common sense to know the difference between preparedness and panic. That does not look to leave me foolishly acting out of fear, but does call me to wisely move forward out of the precaution His has taught me in the face of the dangers I cannot help but see. Wisdom that does not leave me in a possible pending pandemic to think I can blindly find myself in a crowd to do what I might foolishly want to do that day. Or foolishly sitting on a pew come Sunday morning thinking I will gain greater understanding of what His Word says if I listen to a preacher speaking live, than I do from a virtual feed, where you will not find me looking to risking myself and others.
The essential truth of all I see around me, shows me that only One thing in my life is essential. Only One thing in my life is going to be wisely walking with me tomorrow, as He carefully guides me through this day. Better defining for me the meaning of the word “essential” than any dictionary ever could, as His Word tells me, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10).
This week, the Lord has used all the chaos, panic, threat, and misguidance we see surrounding this world today, to remind me what in my life is essential. Placing the wisdom we see in each line of His face right in front of me, and using each of those lines to ground me. To essentially show me that His truth are the only words I need to listen each day to. Words that continue to teach me each day the difference between what this world foolishly and blindly wants to speak to me. And what the wisdom of His Word so exceedingly places in me. Wisely grounding me in where the preparation of His truth can only take me, instead of foolishly looking to lead me to where society’s words of panic and selfishness would seek to bring me. Reminding me today, no matter how crazy I see this world become around me, He is always right there beside me. Because at the end of the day, Christ is the only thing in my life that is essential.
Praying the Lord helps each of you remember what is essential in your life!