Have you been able to get out and enjoy any of the various Christmas activities in your community this year?
Last week my wife and I ventured out with our daughter and grandkids to the Olde Town Christmas Party in Conyers. It turned out to be one of those quaint, memorable evenings of strolling through town, sipping hot chocolate, greeting friends we hadn't seen in a while, watching our grandsons be transformed into face-painted reindeer, and delighting in the children's interaction with Santa as they had their picture taken with the holiday icon.
However, when we first arrived for this festive gathering, we chose to walk right past many of those inviting activities. Instead, based on her experience at this event last year, my daughter suggested that we should go straight to the horse carriage ride to get our name on the waiting list.
It seems that there tends to be more demand for that popular attraction than the drivers can accommodate within the allotted time period.
Even with our effort to take care of that matter first, we still came away with such a high number on the list that we wondered if they would get to us before the evening was over. Later, as closing time approached, it was announced that the carriages could only make four more runs.
Fortunately, our number was in line to be one of those final four. So we did get to take the pleasant ride through town with the sound of clomping hooves ahead of us and with my granddaughter greeting folks along the way with her already-perfected beauty queen wave. If we hadn't made getting that reservation a top priority, we would've missed out on that experience.
As we go through life, we need to keep in mind what is important and set our priorities accordingly. There will always be immediate needs, activities, and opportunities that will tempt us to focus our time and attention on them instead of on those more significant matters.
I can't count the number of times I've heard people express the idea that they know it's important for them to focus on getting their relationship with God in order, but they allow other things to get in the way of actually doing it. They see it as something they'll do "someday," but they just haven't gotten around to it yet.
They believe in God. They believe they're going to have to give an account of their lives before Him one day. They believe in life after death and that they will face the prospect of either heaven or hell for eternity. But they haven't made the necessary preparation for facing those realities.
Too many people let their lives be guided by whatever happens to be in front of them at the moment. Those may not necessarily be bad things, but they are secondary in comparison to one's relationship with the Lord.
Some people allow life's amusements, work responsibilities, and even family concerns hinder them from "getting serious" about spiritual matters. Often their intention is to make everything right with God before they die, maybe even counting on the unreliable hope of a last minute conversion allowing them to squeak through heaven's gates.
But taking care of our souls is not just about making our reservation for a bright future in heaven. A right relationship with God will make this life with all its activities more meaningful.
God doesn't just want to take us to heaven. He wants us to experience life in Him right now in its fullest. He wants us to be channels of His love and light to a lost world.
Isn't it time for you to start walking past some of those secondary matters in life, and take care of that priority of getting your heart right with God? Don't miss out on the experience of a life lived for Him.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.