First things first

Sometimes we get things mixed up in our lives - like what is really important.

Sometimes we devote our time, attention and money to those things that matter least at the expense of those things that matter most.Recently, a couple had tickets to an NBA playoff game. They were excited that they were so lucky to be able to get the tickets. The game was a pivotal game. If the team they were cheering for won, it would advance to the next round in the playoffs. If their team lost, it would be eliminated from the playoffs. The couple anxiously looked forward to the upcoming game and excitedly talked about it during the days before.

But on the night of the game, basketball was the furthest thing from their minds. The wife lay in a bed in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, with multiple tubes running from her body to various monitors that recorded functions of her heart. Only that day, it was discovered she had three blocked arteries and would have to undergo bypass surgery.

In that hospital room that evening, the couple talked of many things. Basketball, however, wasn't one of them. Suddenly the playoff game wasn't so important in their lives. As the husband sat in a chair near the bed holding his wife's hand, they spoke in soft tones of their nearly 35 years of marriage. They talked of their six children, now mostly grown; of times of joy, of times of sadness. In the dimly lit room, with the only light coming through the partially opened door, they quietly spoke of feelings, made more tender by the situation they were now facing.

Not knowing what lay ahead except for the surgeon's scalpel, they felt at peace. "The thing I'm most thankful for," said the wife, "is our temple marriage."

No matter what would happen, they felt all would be well.

"Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?" William Clayton wrote as he penned the words to that now-famous hymn so often sung this time of the year as we honor the Pioneers.

" 'Tis not so, all is right." (Hymns, No. 30.)

The couple in the moments of their quiet reflection, felt "all is right." They had previously knelt at an altar in the holy temple and were sealed, upon condition of their faithfulness, for all time and eternity as husband and wife.

And now at a time such as they were facing, they felt the sweet assurance that "all is well, all is well!"

Priorities? Putting first things first? Perhaps we really don't understand the full significance of doing that until we are faced with a situation where it becomes obvious to us what is most important in life.

And what should be most important in our lives?

First and foremost, we need to understand and live fully the "first and great commandment":

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." (Mark 12:30.)

"When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives," President Ezra Taft Benson said in his opening address at the April 1988 general conference. "Our love of the Lord will govern the claims of our affection, the demands of our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities."

How true that is. If we put God first in our lives, we will not spend our time, talents or resources in doing anything that is contrary to His will. But we will seek "first to build up the Kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness." (JST, Matt. 6:38.)

Second, except for God, we need to put our wives and our husbands, and our children in the forefront of everything else in our lives - "not work, not recreation, not hobbies," as President Benson has said. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 508.)

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves, what are the priorities in our homes, in our families? Are individual and family prayers a priority? What about the holding of family home evenings? What importance do we place on temple marriage and our other temple covenants? What are our feelings about serving in the Church? Are we spending individual time with our spouses, our children? Is keeping the commandments a top priority?

Our priorities will determine what we seek in life. What we seek in life will determine our happiness and peace of mind. Our happiness and peace of mind will largely determine how well we cope with the trials and tribulations we all will have to face as we journey through life.

"But with joy wend your way," William Clayton recorded in his famous hymn. That comes when we have a true perspective of what is really important in our lives, when we have our priorities straight.

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