Resist the tyranny of the urgent

The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox.

“Martha, Martha, you are concerned about many things, but only one is necessary.” (Luke 10:41)

One of my favorite memories from childhood is really a collection of memories around the same theme. They happened at the beach, usually Surfside Beach, which is just below Myrtle. My family went there every summer and stayed in a cottage on the second row or beyond. On a rare occasion we would stay on the oceanfront. But it didn’t matter to us where we were, as long as we were at the beach. 

We would try to get on the road at 4 a.m. or so, to beat the heat and the traffic. We had a station wagon, I remember, brown, plain, with no air conditioning. Not many had AC in their cars in 1962. 

Mom still tells the story of the time when I was just a toddler and we were on our way to the beach. Dad almost always stopped at the same Texaco service station in Rockingham, N.C. to gas up the car and let me and my brothers go to the bathroom. But when he stopped this time, I thought we were at Surfside. I jumped out the car with my bucket and shovel and started digging in the sandy parking lot, happy as a clam. 

The days at the beach started with a leisurely breakfast. We would stake out our place on the sand no later than 9 a.m. and be out there until 4 or so. I would catch sand fiddlers, play Frisbee or baseball with my brothers, swim, body surf, and look for shark’s teeth. My Mom was the world’s best at finding shark’s teeth, and she taught me how to look for them myself. 

We ate seafood at Murrell’s Inlet almost every night. Back then you could get a combination platter that was enough for 2 or 3 people for $5.99. We would sit and eat, and after supper my parents and grandparents would drink coffee and tell stories. They would recount memories from past vacations, and we never got tired of hearing the same tales every year. 

We would finally stretch and push away from the table and make the trek back to our beach house. Sometimes we would pick up right where we left off at the restaurant, telling stories, enjoying each other’s company with the sound of the waves crashing in the dark. 

Don’t get me wrong. There were also “special times” at the beach when we would go into Myrtle and ride the rides, or we would play Jungle Golf together. But those are not the memories etched on my heart, even if at the time they seemed more exciting than just hanging out with my family. No, what I remember most and best are simple times of eating together, laughing, and hearing about the past. 

You know, as I think about it, some of my favorite memories from childhood that were not vacations were the many nights we sat under a dogwood tree in my grandparents’ front yard and talked until we couldn’t see each other any more. My grandfather would smoke his pipe and he and “Nana” would tell stories about what life was like when they were growing up. 

I wonder sometimes, as we are running between baseball practice and Bible study, as we are getting ready for this play or that recital … are we “doing” so much that the really important memories are not being made?

Prayer: “Lord, help me not to be consumed by the ‘urgent’ at the expense of the important. Lift up my eyes, Lord, to see the vineyard right around me that needs my attention.”

Action: Have a family meeting tonight and tell stories about how you grew up and some life lessons you learned. Your children will beg for more!

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About C4FIC

The Council for Family-Integrated Churches exists to promote reverence for the gospel in order to reform the church and restore the home as an embassy of the kingdom of God.
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