The children of Ugandan Thunder did an amazing job on Sunday night. They sang and danced for more than an hour with beautiful smiles on their faces and they never even broke a sweat. For a moment, it was all too easy to forget that behind those beautiful smiles lurked stories that might make many of us cringe. In our brief time together on Sunday, we didn’t learn too much about each other. We knew that they were orphans with big plans. Some wanted to be doctors and lawyers and pilots. We didn’t learn the stories of how they became orphans. We didn’t hear about the diseases or the tragedies that took their parents from this world.
We did hear from their hearts however, as they shared with us those things for which they were particularly thankful. They talked of God’s provision of strength and wisdom and peace. Those were powerful words from such young tongues with such heartbreaking stories to tell. Perhaps the part of the evening that meant the most to me came when just about everyone else had left. The kids had finished up the meal we provided for them and they were thanking the ladies who had worked so hard to prepare it. As they shared hugs and “thank you’s,” they got into their two lines and they sang a song of thanksgiving to the ladies who prepared the meal. They were truly thankful to have their bellies completely full because they truly understood what it felt like to have their bellies completely empty. For a few hours on Sunday night, our world was mixed with a world that is mostly unknown to us here in our land of plenty.
Truthfully, I’ve been unable to shake these thoughts throughout the week. I found that I was drawn back one more time to the opening verses of Philippians. I’ve posed the question countless times this week, “What really matters?” That was Paul’s prayer for his church – that they would know what really matters. I have a feeling that the Ugandan children that blessed us on Sunday probably had a good idea of the answer.
So, what does really matter? Do you dare ask so bold a question about your life? You see, Paul’s prayer is not simply to define the answer to that question, but that believers would have knowledge and discernment in their quest for that answer. In His infinite wisdom, God knows that defining that answer may be the most challenging task before us. We need discernment and knowledge to figure it out because there are so many competing answers.
Truthfully, the answer to that question is at its most basic level a definition of our priorities. We probably do well defining our priorities on paper. We make a list with Jesus at the top and stack everything else underneath. That’s the right answer – on paper. But in practice, we may reveal that we do not fully comprehend what really matters. We put Jesus at the top on paper, but in practice we struggle with prayer and Bible study and participating in the community of Christ. We tuck family in somewhere right underneath Jesus on our list, but in practice we struggle to make it a priority to share meals together and spend time together and go to church together. We put career further down the list, but it often pushes its way to the top. We place hobbies and entertainment close to the bottom, but we all know how prone they are to creep up the list.
Our Ugandan friends are blessed in a way that we may never know. They were blessed because they only had one answer. They had nothing, so they had nothing to compete. Let us not forget those smiling faces that gave us a real and honest glimpse of what really matters!