Sorting essentials

Be brutally honest… when was the last time you sat down and named the things that – for you – are absolute essentials in your life? I was just musing about this question the other day and found myself a little more challenged than I thought I would be to make the decisive list… a list that pushes a little more deeply than “food, air, shelter, companionship,” of course.

Even more interesting is to begin trying to look backward in your life a little bit and see how that list might have changed and evolved over time. Was “having a lot of money” ever on your list? Is it still? And then, after you have taken a look at the things that have fallen off, things that have been added, you are able to probe a little deeper and try and figure out what forces were at work in the shaping of your list.

For example, for me as a practicing Christian, “Faith in God” is absolutely front and center on my list of life essentials. But I can’t honestly tell you that he was always there. In fact, it is almost embarrassing for me as a pastor to admit to how recently in my life that element has been added. Please understand… God has not been a stranger to me for that entire period. But until certain events transpired in a certain way that led me into certain paths, I did not list God as an essential!

What I sincerely hope is NOT the case is that God became a part of my list as a function of age. In other words, because my years are advancing (I am 58, by the way) and I am having more and more frequent encounters with the fact of my mortality (aching joints and depleted energy reserves, etc.), it should be expected that I would start considering the fate of my eternal soul a little more seriously. But if that were the sole or even primary driver behind God’s ascension to my personal list of essentials, it would seem a very shallow or utilitarian basis for faith. It would also let everyone under the age of 35 completely off the hook by saying – in effect – “You really don’t have to start taking this whole faith thing seriously until you begin to see the hearse backing up to your front door.”

So for self preservation purposes if nothing else, I will credit my increasing wisdom as the reason that a vital, living, evolving faith in God is now firmly planted at the top of my list of essential elements for a life worth living.

What’s on your list?

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