When the things that matter don’t matter

One month ago I was driving with a long-time friend to a college sporting event 80 miles away.

My friend, who travels frequently to China, was sharing with me how the “China virus” was impacting his overseas business associates and customers. (At that time it was a China problem, not a U.S. problem…. and certainly not yet a global problem.)

Today that college team we follow was supposed to be completing in the NCAA championships (wresting). But now they won’t be competing.

Some gifted athletes have spent countless hours training, managing nutrition and dropping weight for this very moment – to compete for a prize. And now that moment doesn’t matter. Because it won’t even happen.

Much can change in a week… or even just a day. Two days ago the March Madness basketball tourney – and the rest of college spring sport schedules – were scrapped. Fans across the country were disappointed. But give it a few days and the thought of it won’t even matter anymore.

I remember vividly when 9/11 happened. I made a living trading in the financial markets and had the television on at the very moment the towers were struck. The stock market was halted and shut down for the week.

Focus changed for Americans. People stayed home watching the news. Restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, sporting venues – they were all silent.

The things that mattered on 9/10 did not matter on 9/11. And when families realized the world wasn’t returning to normal for a while, things that mattered on 9/12 didn’t matter on 9/13… and again on 9/14…

Only time will tell how this virus effect will unfold for the world. But already we see that the things that mattered days ago, don’t matter today.

Businesses, writers, bloggers, etc. sent out communications two, three, four days ago that don’t matter today. I’m still getting emails that seem out of place (which is why I’ve got my finger on the DELETE key, clearing out my Inbox like a bulldozer).

Some pastor likely had sermons planned a week ago for this weekend, but now they just don’t fit today. (Of course, God’s truth always matters. But if illustrations are out of touch with what listeners are experiencing, a rewrite is in order).

I have a large stack of mail, papers, and to-do’s on my desk I’ve been waiting to review for weeks and months. Yesterday I thumbed through the pile and realized most of the items don’t matter. I filled up a trash can. When the things that matter no longer matter, we refocus.

At a minimum, for most everyone the virus impact is a big inconvenience. If you own stocks in a retirement plan, the impact is definitely noticeable. For some, the virus impacts are chaotic and disastrous… career-altering and perhaps life-threatening. I don’t wish these hardships on anyone.

But I welcome the opportunity to refocus. Over recent years my life container has become increasingly filled with things that don’t really matter. Perhaps you feel the same way.

I have a chance to start shuffling the deck in my home – to get the things that matter back to the top of the pile, and let the things that don’t matter fall aside.

Join me in rediscovering the things that really matter. This is a Christian audience. I don’t need to explain these things that matter. We know what these are.