April 30, 2012
You just can't make this stuff up. Jeanne Phillips took over the keyboard from her mom, Pauline Phillips, on July 22, 2002 as the source of answers to the 5,000-10,000 people who issue pleas for help from Dear Abby. Yesterday's syndicated column had this earth-shaking query:
"My cousin 'Linda' loves her cats. Last year, one of them – 'Wookie' – got very sick and she had to take him to the animal hospital. She sent a mass text message to all our family members indicating she would be unable to afford Christmas gifts because she had to pay a couple of thousand dollars on Wookie's vet bills. She continues to send updates on his health and treatment. Last week, I received an e-mail from Linda about a website she has established soliciting donations to cover her cat's medical expenses. Every day since then I have received a text or e-mail from her or her mother asking me to donate and to tell my friends as well. I'm sorry Linda's cat is dying, but I don't feel comfortable soliciting friends to donate money for a cat who will not get better. How do I politely ask her to stop bombarding me with these requests? I think what she's doing is a little tacky…"
It's a good thing that Jeanne is doing the answering of those thought-provoking questions. We don't have many cats in our neighborhood… but the coyotes are seen in the streets after sundown, frequently. If Linda could bring Wookie to spend a weekend on our block, things might just work themselves out…
Perhaps I've just offended my cat-loving readers; I'm reaching – with cynical humor – toward a point: you find out a lot about someone based on what they value.
Linda is not a friend of mine, and I sure don't know her cousin who wrote to Dear Abby, but I can tell you something about each of them: Linda values her cat above her own cash – and, the cash of her friends and family – while her cousin places her personal funds at a value level above her cousin's cat (and, likely, above her cousin!). There's a biblical principle on display there: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21).
Different people have different stuff; we all collect our own kinds of "treasure" in life. For some, their children are their most important asset. Others have pets; some have cars or houses or memberships or various kinds of art. Get to know someone; you aren't finished with your foundational familiarization of them until you can assess their holdings in life. "Priorities" is the term we use for what we discover; it's a matter of setting the value of the various categories of accumulations that mark the meaning of their life's greatest accumulation.
Ask God what He values most, and you'll be interviewing Someone with a fascinating portfolio from which He could respond. He holds title to the vast universe He created; on earth, He is the title-holder for every tangible material thing, both raw and refined. It's all His… though we often act as if it's ours while we hold it and keep it away from others. What would God put on top of his most-valued roster?
Tough question; easy answer. He didn't leave the matter up for speculation; in fact, it's one of the most widely-known facts about Him: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life," (John 3:16).
What does God value most? You… me, and all of the rest of the individuals who make up "the world" – the part of His creation that is His favorite-of-all.
The angels could write to Dear Abby about His extraordinary affection for His "pets;" they don't understand His extraordinary love. In fact, His passion for us sent His Son to a cross…