I once heard a story about a little boy who went looking for seashells. He walked up and down the beach collecting as went. They were mostly broken, but still pretty, and he loved them all. Finally his hands and arms were filled with the shells he wanted to take home – but as he turned to go he saw a beautiful, perfect starfish lying on the sand. It was pristine, and he wanted it badly. But his hands and arms were so full, he couldn’t bend down to pick it up without dropping all his other precious beauties, lesser though they were.
At this point, the boy had the choice to either leave behind his lesser shells he had grown fond of and take the perfect starfish, or leave the best find of the day on the sand and walk home with his armload of broken pretty things.
The person who told me the story said the moral was that the Good is the Enemy of the Best. The Best requires devotion, passion, energy, and sacrifice. The Good tends to distract us from the best. We get bogged down with Good. There’s so much that’s pleasant and unobjectionable that we get diverted from seeking that which is profoundly meaningful and worthy.
I know I do this everyday. How easy it is to fill my morning with email, facebook, newspaper and comics instead of spending time with my Lord before I go to work. How easy it is to come home, eat dinner, watch a movie with my wife, and fall asleep without having had a real conversation. It’s tragic, really.
So pray for me. Some things need to be sacrificed. Some good things have to go to make room for bigger, better, and more important things. I need some pruning. Do you? Pruning hurts (parts of your life are getting clipped and cut off!), but it’s always worthwhile. And the Gardener is Good – no, he’s the Best.