So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
It's been more than 50 years, but I still remember the fun we had collecting baseball cards. For a few cents my friends and I purchased photos and playing histories of the sport's greatest. I kept mine safely in a shoe box. Whitey Ford, Willey Mays, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Sandy Koufax.... we cataloged them, traded them, bartered with them.
But as the years passed, my once compelling interest in baseball cards waned. Other things captured my attention and my revered Whitey Fords and Mickey Mantles ended up scattered across my closet floor. By the time I was thirteen I no longer owned a baseball card.
Had I known then what I know now about the value of those cards, things would have been different. Trade them? Never! Leave them scattered around the house? Are you kidding? Some of those cards are worth several hundreds of dollars today. And to think I let mine gather dust in my closet.
Older now . . . and hopefully a measure wiser, baseball cards have taught me an important lesson about the value of things often taken for granted. Like relationships, for example.
Relationships. What about marriage? It used to be I could count on one hand (well, maybe two) the number of failed marriages among my friends. Now I've lost track. Had each couple planned, as they stood before the altar, their future division? I doubt it. Rather, each vowed their life-long commitment, full of promises and romance. But then pressures of work, of raising a family, and who knows what else began taking their toll. And somehow romance and promises wound up collecting dust between the covers of photo albums or scattered like so many knickknacks across a passionless house. And without realizing what was happening while it was happening, they flipped their relationships aside like so much valueless clutter.
Relationships. What about that between a parent and child? How many moms and dads have lost touch with the value of their children? When the kids were younger they played ball together, went for picnics, had tea parties. But now there's precious little time to do much as a family. Monday is PTA. Tuesday, scouts. Wednesday is bingo. Thursday, bowling. Friday is whatever. Then comes the weekend. Who can crawl out of bed? And so weeks roll into years, and memories collect dust and cobwebs.
But the saddest of all examples of outgrown relationships is the way many "outgrow" their relationship with God. Where church attendance had once been an important part of childhood, where stories of Moses and David, of Paul and Jesus had been the stuff on which they were nurtured, fishing trips or shopping at the Mall now take precedence on Sundays. The value of a once vibrant relationship with the God of the Universe has lost personal meaning for a large and growing number of people.
Relationships can so easily become strained or torn asunder between a mom or dad... a spouse... a child. Even our God. But the choice, where the choice may still be made, is ours. We can scatter our treasures across the floor, or safely protect them.
Inevitably, it will happen; Each of us will learn in time, relationships with one another are of much more worth and of more infinite value than things like baseball cards. May God help us learn it early rather than late.