Urgent or Important
We may live in "the land of the free and the home of the brave," but there's a tyranny that few of us are free from--"the tyranny of the urgent" (Charles E. Hummel). Daily, urgent matters come at us from every direction--exams to study for, deadlines to meet, chores to be done, emergencies that pop up, etc.
When busy, we may feel like our life is full. But is it? The problem with urgent matters is that they are urgent: their urgency consumes all our attention and energy for the time being to truly tyrannical proportions! They dictate our schedule, and we feel out of control. Think of the night before your final exam, for which you're not ready.
The tricky thing is that just because something is urgent doesn't mean that it’s important. What did you stress about a month ago as if your life depended on it? Do you even remember it? But some important things are not urgent--like calling up your parents to say, "Thank you for all your love and support. I love you!" After surviving a plane crash, a mother said she never sends off her kids to school without saying, "I love you!" To her, nothing is more important than that!
But how do we distinguish between what is important and what is just urgent? Urgent things seem so important at that moment! Making any kind of value judgment requires a set of criteria. Ultimately, these criteria are determined by our perception of who we are and what our life is about. To a hedonist, pleasure is the most important thing in life. To a stoic, reason which transcends pain and pleasure is.
So then, what is man, and what is his purpose? Should we live as a hedonist or as a stoic, as a romantic or as a rationalist? How do we know which one is right? Which of us has the right to make a definitive statement about what man is? Many have offered different answers but there is no consensus. This shows nobody has the answer. So, do we make one for ourselves and stick with it?
The problem is that we change. Why do so many people go through a midlife crisis? What we think is important may not be so important later in life. Our last breath may be nothing but a deep sigh of regret. Do we just say that’s tough and accept it as our lot in life?
The Bible provides a different approach. It declares that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). This simple fact has profound, farreaching ramifications. If we are made in His image, our fulfillment can be found only when we take after God and accept His purpose for us. This can't be such a bad deal if God is the most glorious, joyous, and beautiful Being of all! But God also says, "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).
Jesus said, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul" (Mark 8:36)? Are you busy trying to gain more of the world? That may be why you can't escape the tyranny of the urgent. Whatever you're chasing, will it help you when you must face the Judge? For "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…" (Hebrews 9:27). Will you be able to withstand His scrutiny? No one can on his own. For we will have to give an account not only of our actions but also of our words and thoughts!
That's why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world in the frailty of man. He took our place before the Judge and paid the penalty of our sin. He offers forgiveness and redemption to all who cling to Him as their Savior. It may not seem urgent but there's nothing more important than preparing for eternity by making our relationship with God right. Only when we have our eyes on eternity can we determine what is truly important and worthy of your life and free ourselves from the tyranny of the urgent!