Thursday, September 24 2020 - 9:25 AM
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What is Essential?

One well used word lately is “essential.” During a time of pandemic, many states in the U.S. have listed or endorsed the use of what is determined to be essential businesses, places or jobs. And conversations and arguments have ensued about the value of such a label. Why are some things called essential and others not? How is a trip to Costco essential but a church service is not? Isn’t a hair cut essential?

I’ve also read philosophies about making sure that, when employed, you want to be considered non-essential so that you can have the option to move to another job description or place in the company. Becoming essential can mean being trapped in one function or long hours of work.

When I was a nursing mother, I was essential to my babies for months. I helped sustain their lives. Don’t we all want to be essential in some regard? Certainly, if we are married, most of us would wish to remain an essential spouse. I like being an essential family member while possessing memories and history that no one else can replace.

What is essential for happiness and peace? Those items might vary by age and person. But I believe a relationship with God and with some other humans is essential to my well being and future. I would also add some animals, flowers, art and music. Good food, shelter, health, and the ability to learn and contribute to society are essential for most people.

In Luke 10 there is a famous story of Jesus and his disciples (how many?) visiting the home of Martha and her sister Mary. Martha was very concerned about preparing a nice meal for the visitors, and her sister was not helping. Mary was listening to Jesus. Martha ended up asking Jesus to tell her sister to get into the kitchen and help! Martha did not get the response she was hoping for when Jesus told her: “One thing is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 42, The Message).

Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, he reminded his followers not to worry about those things that they seemed to believe were essential to life, such as food, drink, and clothes. He told them the heavenly father knows what each person needs. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:33, 34, NIV).

Perhaps Mary and Martha had been present during that earlier message from Jesus, and Martha just didn’t “get it.” Or she was so distracted thinking about the next meal, budget, or the next shopping trip that she didn’t even hear Jesus. He desired to help Martha achieve such a state of peace and faith that nothing would shake her in the future. He wanted to let her know just how essential she really was in God’s kingdom. Her value went way beyond her baked bread, delicious hummus, and creative salads.

God, the creator of humans, knows that when we are anxious and distracted it’s hard to think, plan, and react well. Anxiety plagues the whole body. There will always be dirty dishes and clothes, dust on the table, doctor’s appointments. The essential time I spend learning about God and his love can provide me with the internal strength to face whatever happens next. And no amount of breakfast, lunch or dinner can nourish my soul like my friend, Jesus.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

  1. What do you consider essential for your health and wellness?
  2. In what part of life would you like to become essential?

Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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