Someone said that one of the easiest ways to experience dissatisfaction with life is to overdose on good things and miss the best things.
Choose the best over the good. That’s what the biblical character Mary did in the gospel story (Luke 10:38-42). While Martha, Mary’s sister, chose the good, Mary chose the best, which was to spend time with Jesus. And Jesus concurred.
The greatest power we possess is the power to choose. Think about that for a moment. We make choices every day that affect our lives. We can choose to be lazy or ambitious, friendly or unfriendly, cooperative or stubborn, exciting or dull, positive or negative. We can choose the bad, the good or the best. The choice is ours.
But our choices usually have to do with our understanding of life, of time. Is my life my own or is it a sacred trust from God? If we understand it as a sacred trust from God we will affirm the words of Luke when he said, “In him we live and move and have our being.” Therefore, we will understand that time does not belong to us. It belongs to God.
Consequently, every day is sacred. Every day is time entrusted to us by God. Every moment is a gift.
The notable Eric Liddell was a person who understood life as a gift from God. He was favored to win the 100-meter dash in the 1924 Olympics and the hopes of the British Isles were riding him. But when a qualifying heat for the event was scheduled for Sunday, Liddell respectfully withdrew from the race. Sunday was “the Lord’s day” for him and that day was to be kept holy. No work, no reports. His country was counting on him to run, and he desperately wanted to win, but in his view, faith and compromise could not coexist.
To be sure, Eric Liddell suffered much criticism because of his stand. Some of his other countrymen even suggested he was disloyal to the king and country. But in the film, “Chariots of Fire,” an official at the Olympics says, “You see, him being loyal to his God is simply an extension of who he is. I’m glad there’s still somebody that still lives that way.”
Eric Liddell had a passion for running all right, but he had a greater passion for the almighty. He knew that time was a gift from God, and he knew that he had chosen the best.
I repeat, every moment is a gift from God and should characterize not only the good but the best.
W. Somerset Maugham, a British novelist, stated that, “It’s a funny thing about life — if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it.”
On a plane to Houston a few years ago, I sat by an employee of Six Flags Over Georgia. He was a young guy in his 30s who was on his way for a job interview with Six Flags Over Texas. He said that he and his wife had been praying that they would do God’s will in the situation.
Believe it or not, the next day I ran into this same fellow at the airport in Houston, while waiting on my flight back to Atlanta. On greeting him, I asked how the interview had gone. He said, “Fine, but Six Flags Over Texas is not nearly as pretty as Six Flags Over Georgia.”
I said, “So you’ll have to sacrifice beauty for responsibility.”
Immediately, he replied, “No, I’m hoping to make beauty.” Now, that young man was choosing the best — to make beauty.
James Moore, minister and author, shared something I hope you will hear and take to heart. He said, “Life is not measured by the number of things we accumulate or the number of awards we win or the number of successes we achieve or the number of honors we receive or the wealth we pile up or the number of years we put in. No, in the final analysis, the bottom line is this: It’s not the the number of breaths we take, it’s the number of moments that take our breath away.”
And that experience always comes from choosing the best. I repeat, choose the best over the good.
The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.