As the children gathered at the front of the sanctuary Pastor Rakes placed a brown leather briefcase on the floor in front of them next to a small stack of books. He asked Max, one of the older boys, to open the briefcase and, after some effort working the clasps, Max succeeded. Much to the disappointment of the children, however, the briefcase was empty except for a small spiral notebook and a few pens. Pastor Rakes then pointed to the stack of books and asked the children for help. “I have these books and I think they’re pretty important,” he said. “Please help me get them into this briefcase so I can take them with me wherever I go.” Then, to jump start the effort, he took a well-used paperback off the stack, handed it to a girl up front, and asked her to place it in the briefcase. She happily complied. “Is there room for more?” They all agreed that there was plenty of room, so he handed out the rest of the books in the stack—hardcover fiction and non-fiction, more paperbacks, a school textbook…even a dictionary—and asked the kids to fit them in the case.
After about a minute the briefcase was packed full, so Pastor Rakes asked the children to close it up. It took some coaching, some reorganizing and one kid sitting on the top to make it close, but they were able to squeeze the case shut, close the clasps, and declare victory. But the victory was short lived…
Pastor Rakes stepped back to his podium, grabbed one more book, and brought it back to the kids. “Now put this in there too,” he said as he handed them his Bible. The children shared some bewildered looks before one of the braver ones finally said, “it won’t fit.” Multiple heads quickly nodded in agreement. After sitting on the case to get in closed, it seemed obvious that nothing more could possibly fit…didn’t it?
“Ah, I know it looks like this Bible won’t fit, but that’s not true,” he shared. “It will definitely fit…but first you have to take something out to make room for it!” He opened up the briefcase, removed one of the larger books, and held it up. “This dictionary is important to me, but it’s not more important than God’s Word. So I’m going to take it out to make sure there’s room for my Bible.” He then placed his Bible in the briefcase and closed it.
“You see,” Pastor Rakes went on to explain, “this briefcase is like our lives and this Bible represents God. It’s very easy to fill our lives with so many things we think are important—school, sports, hobbies, friends, jobs, TV…even food—that we forget to first make room for what’s most important, our relationship with God. And just like we had to take something less important out of this briefcase to make room for my Bible, if we find ourselves so busy that we’re having a hard time finding time for God, then it’s time to put God first by taking something less important out of our life. Make sure you always put God first in your life!”
The simple truth for us:
It seems that we’re busier than we’ve ever been before…long work hours, education demands, ever increasing sports activities, personal hobbies, Boy/Girl Scouts, Awana, PTO meetings, exercise, work around the house, volunteering…the list goes on. In fact, we’re so busy that it’s easy to forget to put God first in our lives. There’s no doubt that many of these activities are “good” things to do, but when we prioritize them above our relationship with God then they’ve become idols to us…and that is sin. We need to fix that…and sometimes that means taking something else out to make sure there’s always plenty of room for Him.