Sunday, December 4, 2011
Treasures and Priorities
"Are you hurt?"
"Burned my hand pretty good."
"Oh, Honey. Are you alright?"
"I'll know in a minute."
"I didn't realize I'd turned the burner on under the plate and when I touched the plate, it of course burned me. I pushed the plate off the burner, but it shattered when it touched the counter."
"Were you cut?"
"No. Just burned."
I looked at the shattered plate. It was a piece of Franciscan China given to me forty years ago as a wedding present. Although that wedding ended in divorce, it had been given to me by my family and I treasured it. Since marrying Bill, pieces, mostly dinner plates, had been gradually disappearing. The set was now down to only five dinner plates out of the original eight. I had not heard the story behind the other disappearances, and could only wonder at how they met their demise.
I pushed those thoughts aside and turned back to my husband. Large blisters emerged on all five of his finger tips.
"Honey, you really should put some burn cream on those and then bandage them."
"I'll think about it."
"And,if you go to the doctor, he will give you this amazing antibiotic cream that will immediately reduce the pain as well as protect your burns from infection. I really think you should go."
"I'll give it a little longer and then see."
I knew it was useless push any further, and with misgivings dressed and headed to work. As I drove, I thought of the plate, and could hear my mother cautioning me to be careful with my things. As a result of her advice I have many things I have kept safe for years, until I met Bill. He isn't purposely hard on things, but he is like the proverbial bull in my china shop.
The silverware set I had received along with the china was now gone. Spoons kept disappearing until there were only four left out of a set of sixteen. Bill eventually confessed to accidentally grinding them in the garbage disposal. He has a habit of putting all the dirty dishes in the same side of the sink with the disposal and the teaspoons are short enough to disappear into the opening. Lying unseen, they become victims to the steel blades.
After his confession about the silverware, I stated, "Honey, I've had that set for forty years!"
His response indicated how different our thought patterns and priorities were. "Well, I guess it was about time you got a new set."
This comment left me speechless, and acutely aware my priorities are not always in the right order. I sometimes laid up the very treasures Jesus had warned against. Certainly I should be a good steward and not be careless with the things I am given, but they are not to be treasured above family - or God. And, Bill was right. All my priceless treasures can be replaced. Maybe not with anything identical, but definitely replaced with something able to provide the same function. That isn't true of God, or my family. They are irreplaceable treasures far more important than a piece of china, or a picture or any other keepsake.
I will admit, it wasn't any easy lesson. I was very tempted to mourn over the demise of that beautiful plate, the symbol of a treasured gift, and it took some effort to treasure the giver over the gift. One final thought settled the matter.
When God calls me home to Him, I don't want to be remembered as the woman who had an entire set of unbroken china in her cupboard. I'd rather be remembered as the woman who loved God and her family.
Now when I look at that china set (and at our new silverware), I think of priorities and where mine need to be.