Stacia, our youngest daughter, moved to Mt Juliet, Tennessee, before Christmas. Mt. Juliet is a suburb of Nashville. MJ is also where our son and his family live. Aunt Stacia wanted to be close to her nephews, Grayson and Anderson. Of course G and A also happen to be two of our stinking cute grandchildren.
Before she moved, Stacia needed to scout out the place a bit, so she went to visit the Playl Junior’s for a few days. On her first day at their house, Anderson was outside playing with one of his neighborhood playmates.
“Guess who’s here?”
“Oh, I know. I already saw her. It’s your aunt.”
“No!” Anderson exclaimed. He was looking for a different answer. “Morgan’s here!”
Morgan is Stacia’s 15-year-old boxer. She is very special. Not only is she old and fragile - over a hundred in dog years, right? - but there’s also a back story. When she was young and energetic, she ran into the jungle behind their house in Florida and disappeared. For weeks, Stacia didn’t know if she had been picked up by a passerby or gobbled up by a ‘gator.
Turns out she had been hit by a car; taken by a good Samaritan dog lover to a vet, where her broken leg was set; and, eventually, offered for adoption in the next county. Stacia had tacked posters with Morgan’s picture on countless utility poles and called all the veterinarians in their county to no avail. How could Stacia have guessed that a good Samaritan would take the injured dog to her vet in the adjoining county? Long story, short: Stacia saw her sweet puppy’s picture on an adopt-a-boxer website and, eventually, was able to reclaim her - after paying a hefty vet bill for surgery.
Although that drama had transpired long before Anderson was born, he had surely heard it recounted a few times. Maybe that was the reason Morgan’s presence at his house was so important. Maybe he just wanted to give his neighborhood friend a different answer. Maybe, at that moment, the canine was the top of his list, and Aunt Stacia was his second priority. I’m sure the thoughts of a 7-year-old are beyond me. Had his friend responded with, “I don’t know. Who?,” he may have awarded the spot to Stacia instead of her dog.
How about our priorities as adults? Our answer to what or who is number one probably changes from time to time. Most of us have lots of folks, plans, ideas, and concerns about daily provisions running through our minds at any given time. Getting our “ducks in a row” - our priorities in order - is much more important than getting the “right” answer to a simple question, as in the conversation between the two youngsters mentioned earlier in the story. The most important thing is to put the right person or thing in first place.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we worry about many things, but, in order get everything in order, we must seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else will fall into place.
The Master was also questioned regarding God’s greatest command. He answered that the first and most important was to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. The second is to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
In 2021, let’s consider our priorities and try to get them in order.
Steve Playl, retired pastor and chaplain, columnist, and college instructor, may be reached at email@example.com