Getting your priorities right

I recently came across this amusing anecdote which teaches a profound spiritual truth. Once upon a time a woman bought a parrot, but then returned him to the pet store the next day complaining that he wouldn’t talk. The pet shop owner asked “Does he have a mirror? Parrots love mirrors because they see themselves and start up a conversation.” The woman bought a mirror and went home. A few days later she returned
again. The bird still wasn’t talking. “How about a ladder? Parrots love walking up and down a ladder.  A    happy parrot is more likely to talk.” The woman bought a ladder. Two days later she was back again. The bird was still silent. “Does your parrot have a swing? If not, that’s your problem. He needs one to relax and then he will talk.” The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left.

When she walked into the pet shop three days later her countenance had changed. “The parrot died” she sobbed. The store owner was shocked. “I’m so sorry. Tell me, did he ever say a word?” “Yes” said the woman “just before he died he asked “Don’t they sell food at that pet store?”

The moral of this story is particularly important for today’s generation. The mirror is a warning to people not to spend their lives focusing on “appearance”, either their personal outward appearance or the  outward appearance of their life style. All too often people spend too much time trying to impress others by the life they lead, how they look, what they wear, the car they drive and the house they live in.

The ladder is a warning to those who focus too much on “career success”. Every day I come across individuals who are continually pushing themselves to “go higher up the tree”. In many cases they will achieve their goal. One day, however, they will discover the harsh reality that they have spent their entire lives “climbing the wrong tree.” Jesus warned in Luke ch 12 v 15 “that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” The reality is that God is not interested in what a person earns or how high they have climbed up the corporate ladder. What He wants is for people to strive to develop their spiritual maturity and moral character which leads to a close personal relationship with Him.

The swing is a warning to those who focus too much on “entertainment”. Entertainment can take many forms depending on individual taste. From reading to music, cinema going to gardening, and from sports to hobbies, there is a myriad of things to choose from which can all too easily distract a person from spiritual issues. It seems today, that every waking moment has to be filled with some activity. Reading something, watching something, listening to something! It appears that modern man has lost the ability to walk without the aid of headphones. What has happened to silence? What has happened to taking time out to think and reflect, to marvel and to ponder?

And the death of the parrot? This is a warning that those who focus on these trivial matters, are spiritually starving and in due time will die unprepared to meet Almighty God. Such people have failed to understand  “the meaning of  life” and the purpose of our time here.

The message of Christianity is that we have all disobeyed God and that after physical death will be required to give an account of our actions before Him. Owing to His infinite love and mercy He offers forgiveness and cleansing to any who repent and turn to Him in this mortal life. Christ died for our sins so as to make this Gift of forgiveness possible but it is conditional upon a person’s repentance and true state of heart. This explains why Jesus constantly called upon people to repent and turn back to God, it explains why it was the dominant message of the Disciples, and it explains why it remains the main message of the Church today. This modern day “parable” warns people not to stifle their God given conscience by focusing on trivial things. It warns them not to get distracted from what matters most of all, namely; developing through repentance and obedience, a personal relationship with God.

The authenticity of this serious message is confirmed by the double “witnesses” of science and fulfilled Bible prophecy. The main purpose of science is to demonstrate the way God makes things work and it constantly reveals the complexity of life. It has recently been discovered that DNA as small as a pinhead is so packed with information that if it was written out in book form, the pages would reach to the moon and back 200 times. Yes, two hundred times! Science gives clear evidence of life having been “designed” and provides ample proof of the existence of a Great Designer.

The main purpose of fulfilled Bible prophecy is to demonstrate which religion accurately describes this Creator and Designer. It authenticates which religious message has really come from Him. This explains why the Bible is unique amongst ancient literature by having a third of it written in the form of predictions and prophecies. As these predictions comes to pass it is a constant witness to each new generation that God’s offer of life and warning of punishment is to be taken seriously.

The sending of God’s Son to die for us, was no small or minor event but an indescribable Act of Love of the most profound nature. It was an act of mercy of such magnitude it should melt the hardest of hearts. Those who accept this amazing Gift by repenting of their sins, enter into a personal and intimate relationship with God. Those however, who spurn such a profound Gift, condemn themselves by rejecting a loving and wonderful relationship of such depth. As it warns in Hebrews ch 2v3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

The tragic story is told of how Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) bitterly regretted ignoring the love and devotion of his wife until it was too late. When she became ill with cancer and confined to bed, he was too preoccupied with writing to pay her much attention. Rarely did he go and sit with her.

Immediately after her funeral he felt burdened by guilt at how he had failed to spend time at her bedside. He went into her room and sat down. From her bedside table he picked up her diary and began to read. The words cut like a knife into his soul. One line went “Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like being in heaven. I love him so.” He turned the page and read “I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won’t come today.” He could bear it no more. He threw the diary to the floor and rushed to her graveside. Friends found him face down in the mud weeping over and over again, “If I had only known! If I had only known”!

If failing and letting down a loving wife led to such a profound response, imagine what it will be like for those who fail and reject a Loving God after their conscience comes to life. “I went to the Cross for you, I did all this for you. I waited for you but you never came. You were too busy with your appearance, your career, your entertainment…..All this I did for you, now what did you do for Me?”