A long time ago I read a devotional style book and the author prefaced it by discussing the practice of replacing good things with better things, and then ultimately reaching for the best things. For example, she progressed from listening to inoffensive music on the radio to more ‘wholesome’ music to only Christian music to devotions and sermons to Biblical commentary to finally ending up listening exclusively to the audio Bible.
Now, I personally don’t feel the need to only read or listen to Scripture. On the contrary, I would have a problem with anyone insisting that I do so. However, the idea of having to choose between good and best is a theme I have experienced time and again in the years since reading that book.
There are simply a bazillion gillian good things out there. Scientific fact! I mean, just the categories of good things makes a very long list. We can get involved in team sports, individual sports, academic classes, arts, service projects, charity works, parties, learning new skills, and elective classes are just a few that pop into my head. Those are all kind of in the form of homeschooling, which hardly encompasses all the wonderful things in life!
Unfortunately, there are far fewer hours in our lives than there are good things to do. So we must choose. For all the good out there, there are things that are better; and there are things that are best. What that best is can change to fit the seasons of life, so regular assessment helps keep the ‘striving for best’ on track.
This is why we live the way we live. We recognize the good and I even wish that we could participate in most of it. But that good could squeeze out some of the best, and once I tasted the best, there is just no going back. What I have witnessed, though, is that if all I taste is good, I seem to just stay hungry.
Looking at life like it is this huge buffet where I gorge myself on every item on display for fear of missing out on some yummy new taste isn’t actually freedom. It breeds a frantic atmosphere where worry about missing out rules all my decisions.
To continue the food metaphor, I think it is easy to imagine just about any other setting that affords a finer fare of delicacies and a more relaxing and restorative atmosphere than a buffet restaurant. You may prefer an intimate fancy restaurant with candles and cloth napkins and maybe a violinist in the background. Perhaps a picnic in a meadow or a BBQ at the beach complete with sand and surf is more your speed. Midnight snacks with a best friend eaten in bed over a movie is something I personally would choose. But in any of these cases, the food choices are limited, fit to the environment and truly enhance the real focus of the day. The food is filling, even if in smaller portions, and the memories are lasting.
I notice that when I get into the mode of not wanting to miss any good thing, my focus changes from relationships to activities; from people to things. Whenever I let my eyes slip in this way, I know that in my quest to not miss out, I missed it all. If I can adopt a more discerning palate, so that I can pass over much of the good, the rewards are well worth it.
So, what constitutes best? What makes it stand out from the good or even the better? Well, I think that takes some time to figure out. I also think that it can be widely varied for different people and change with life seasons. For my family, we want God’s Word to be the final authority in our lives in all things. We don’t always succeed, but it is a driving force in our decision-making. And it has led us to where we are now. We continue to watch and pray, waiting to see if and when He will steer us in a new direction. He is good and worth waiting for. In the meantime, we are really enjoying His best for us.