A word of encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

The Israeli King Ahab in Bible times wasn’t doing what a good king was supposed to do: helping people do right and punishing evil doers. (The story is told in First Kings, chapter 20.) Instead, King Ahab was “doing something else.” So a prophet of God told him a parable about a soldier whose king assigned him to stand guard over a prisoner of war. But the prisoner escaped, the guard explained, while he was “busy doing something else.”

I thought of that story one day, when a business man asked me about the missionary trips Walt and I took through the years. I chose (feminine-like, I fear) some of the most intriguing and challenging trips . . . a city in central Asia so choked with humanity, the young men slept on the precarious slopes of the house roofs. . . an isolated hamlet at the end of the furthest west paved road in America . . . in Africa, sleeping under mosquito netting, all night hearing beating drums while crocodiles lurked in the river . . . singing Gospel hymns in the highlands of southeast Asia with people whose grandfathers had been head-hunters. . . but always, always the purpose of our trip was to share the Gospel and encourage Christians, not just to experience adventure.

The business man listened to my stories and then said, so wistfully, “I would love to travel with my wife that way, but I only get two weeks of vacation every year.”

Thinking that if he were his own boss, he should be able to chose his vacation schedule, I impulsively asked, “Are you your own boss?”

“Of course I’m my own boss,” he answered.

I said no more, but I wondered. If he were his own boss, couldn’t he decide his own schedule? Might he be distracted by “being busy at other things?” I remembered a terrible day when life-long friends of ours wept as they told us she’d just been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. He said, brokenly, through tears, “But we were going to travel together just as soon as I retired.” Had they pursued lesser important activities, thinking they had plenty of time ahead?

That day, I realized how essential it is to be focused on the truly important responsibilities of life, rather than postponing them for later. I must choose how I spend every precious day God has given me. I ought not to focus primarily on earning a living, worrying all the time about food and clothing and shelter. Certainly I have an obligation to take care of my family—

—But Jesus knows how absorbing and distracting physical needs can be. So He said, in Matthew 6:31,32Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the pagans seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” The God who created us with those needs certainly knows how necessary they are. But Jesus makes us this promise:

But seek first the kingdom of God
and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.

Do I spend too much time decorating my home? On social media? On amusing myself? On keeping up with the times? Have I been “busy doing other things” instead of loving my family, nurturing them, caring for others in need, doing God’s work? May God help all of us to seriously seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and trust Him to provide our every need, just as He promised.