Meditations on my Finger

Well, my finger’s OK now, though it really had me worried Saturday, the night of the accident (my original post on the accident is at How Long, O Lord?). Portions of the skin had turned blue and numb.

So on Sunday I went to St. Luke’s Medical Center to have it checked. They gave me a hand x-ray and a complete blood count (CBC). Finally, the doctors said I was OK, there were no fractures, and I had no infection. They said the discoloration and numbness were just normal for the type of injury I had sustained. Thank God!

Still, perhaps morbidly, I got to wondering: what if I HAD lost my finger?

This accident had driven home to me the folly of taking things for granted: my fingers, hands, tongue, and eyes; my legs, my short-term memory, my health, my life. I go merrily through life frittering away time at trivial pursuits. I squander opportunities, procrastinating and putting off the more important in favor of the “urgent”, the comfortable, and “the usual”. All without realizing that, if I lost just one finger, or my hand, or my sight, or my short-term memory, then the chances of my accomplishing the things that are really important would be severly diminished, maybe even be lost forever.

Jesus said, “We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”*. He was of course referring to working for the spread of the Kingdom of God. But I believe the command can also be applied to working at one’s life mission, working at the relationships that are really important to you, so that when something happens and you cannot work on those things anymore, there will be no regrets.

My ambition now is to be like St. Paul. When he knew that he was about to be executed, he was able to say “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race”**. No regrets for wasted opportunities. No remorse for unforgiven sins. No wasted time.

My dear, dear wife recently received this email from a friend***:

TWO GLASSES OF TEA

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of tea…

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. 

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two glasses of tea from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.”

The pebbles are the other things that matter; like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there will be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Take care of the things that really matter****.  Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the tea represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of glasses of tea***** with a friend.”
 

* From John 9:4 (The Message)
** From 2 Timothy 4:7 (Revised Standard Version)
*** The source of the email did not say who was the original source of this story. If anyone knows, please tell me so that I can attribute it properly. Thanks!
**** I would include here feeding one’s spirit and developing Christian hedonism.
***** Personally, I would much prefer mugs of coffee, but hey, that’s just me 🙂

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