2016 was a pretty rough year for my family. It had some amusing moments, but even those amusing moments can be summed up best using my mom’s very own words, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”
If you haven’t been following, let me share a quick summary. In May, my mom was diagnosed with a large brain aneurysm. We spent the end of May through the end of June, wondering if she’d even make it TO brain surgery. Even wondering if she qualified FOR brain surgery. On June 29th, my mom had brain surgery to clip her large (one inch) aneurysm. This led to a series of issues that would result in not one, but two strokes. One of the strokes introduced aphasia (the inability to understand).
Life looks so different when someone you love comes back from the brink of death to relearn basic parts of life (like how to eat, what to eat, how to read, how to write, etc). It took six months to be able to have a conversation with my mom where I felt like she actually understood what I was saying (well, a majority of what I was saying). How beautiful of a gift was this to receive on Christmas Eve! About a month or two after her surgery (while still in the hospital), she always talked about “the important things.” You know what my mom would tell you are the “important things?” The important things are simply making sure your loved ones know that you love them. I have heard my mom tell me more times in the last 8 months that she loves me than probably the last 31 years combined. Why? Because making sure that others know you love them is of greatest importance!
This whole experience with my mom has taught me that we (the whole world, the collective humanity) are so petty. We're really quick to let the littlest, stupidest things get in the way of the "important things." Even seemingly big things pale in comparison to the "important things" when our loved ones are facing death. Is it worth it to carry our grudges and to carry our hurts when it costs us the time that we will crave to have them back when they're no longer with us?
Love is bigger than hurts. Love is bigger than grudges. Love is bigger than our pettiness. Love is bigger than anything that can stand in the way of our relationships.
There’s quite a lot of people in the Bible who got a big, memorable lesson on the important things, but there's only one that I want to highlight today and that is Saul (Paul).
What can we learn from Saul?
Having the wrong perspective means that we've highlighted the wrong things as important. What was important here? What were "the important things?" The "important things" in this passage was Jesus. It wasn't the opinion of others. It wasn't tradition. It wasn't religion. It wasn't being right. It was Jesus. Plain and simple, it was whether or not Jesus was who He claimed to be.
The wrong perspective caused Saul to see an enemy where others saw a Savior. It's interesting to me how two people can look at the same situation and come up with the polar opposite responses, interpretations, and beliefs. The same people that Saul sought to put into prison (or put to death) were willing to die for their beliefs, Saul was willing to kill for his.
The wrong perspective caused Saul to value the opinions and beliefs of his leaders over the opinion and will of God. Saul was zealous about the wrong things (i.e. tradition, religion). He was so concerned about the wrong things that he was blinded to the right things (Jesus). I wonder if Saul ever asked himself, "Do these people know something I don't?" He seemed to know a lot about the Bible (the Old Testament) but lost sight of the Scripture that prophesied about Jesus. Did he ever question if Jesus was who He claimed to be? Did he ever question if Jesus was truly the Messiah? Did He ever pray and ask God for clarity, direction, or wisdom concerning Jesus as the Messiah?
The wrong perspective melts away with the Truth. Saul was so sure that he was absolutely right until Jesus came on the scene and confronts Saul. Saul confronts the Truth about Jesus and His life is never the same. He started His journey with the intention of putting more of Jesus' followers into prison and He ends His journey to Damascus as a follower and messenger of Jesus. Talk about doing a complete 180! Like the people he murdered and imprisoned, Saul, later known as Paul, would also be imprisoned and eventually murdered because of his beliefs regarding Jesus.
In my own family, our wrong perspective of what was important melted away when the Truth was revealed. The important things are relationships: a relationship with Jesus and a relationship with each other.
Saul had been zealous about the wrong things (religion, tradition) and, with the intervention of Jesus, soon became zealous about the right things (Jesus, the mystery of the Gospel, His brand new life as a new creation, Truth). In my family, the Truth awoke us to the realization and appreciation of "the important things."