In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, the American comedy duo, Abbott and Costello, were known for their patter comedy routine “Who’s on First?” It’s one of the best-known comedy routines of all time set in the context of a baseball game. Though this duo has passed from the scene, many of you may have heard it. If not, be sure to look online for a chance to see it.
In the sketch Abbott and Costello are going to New York City where Abbott is supposed to have a new job as the coach for the Yankees. Costello wants to know who the players are and the comedic lines begin when he asks Abbott, “Who’s on first?” (I can’t do justice to telling you the rest so check it out for yourself if you wish and enjoy the clean humor of a bygone era.)
The question of “who’s on first” goes far beyond a comedic routine about a baseball team, however. It points to a question of priorities that can be about persons in our lives. That sounds straightforward enough and most of us can give the “right answer” of who that is supposed to be, but whether our behaviors and choices reflect that might tell a different story. Intentionality is needed to have behaviors and choices line up with the statements.
As I was reflecting on that over the last few weeks, I started to do some personal evaluation.
Of all my earthly relationships, my husband of 54 years certainly comes first, but I wondered how I demonstrate that specifically. I think I do, but it occurred to me that I wanted to be more deliberate in showing it.
I put together a very special Christmas gift box that I hope will remind my dear man of what I tell him in words. It was what I call a “Box of Dates.” Inside the box was a letter describing my goal and intent and two small envelopes with a note inside each. One envelope was marked December 2018 and the other January 2019. The letter of instruction said that he was to open the one for December 2018 first and in it he would find a date I had planned and paid for and that it must be used before December 31, 2018. Any time after January 1, 2019, he could open the second note and discover the next date that he could spend any time during the month of January. Then he was to place the box on the desk in the den and notes for February and March would be tucked inside.
I wanted the dates to give us new memories, time to chat, and to do some things we do not routinely do on a “date night.”
He has opened that first envelope and it involved going to a wonderful new Italian coffee shop and bakery he had never visited where he could choose to indulge in the great coffee and Italian fried chocolate cream-filled doughnuts or gelato. It was great fun, but whether this yearlong gift accomplishes what I hope will not be clear until we come to the end of the year
While I was reading in 1 Samuel the Lord brought that same question to mind as I observed David’s life. He was “a man after God’s own heart,” and yet the story shows that David (like any one of us) sometimes allowed the Lord to slip from first place in his life.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t ever work very well for me. Even above my husband, the Lord needs to be first…not just because the Word shows me that, but because when He is in that place everything in my life is ordered and aligned. That results in every aspect of my life (physical, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual) going more smoothly. I also discover I invariably carry out and follow through on all I need or purpose to be and do to a much greater degree.
Doing that is not as easy as I wish. It seems anything and everything is arrayed to dissuade me whether it is sleepiness, electronic devices, appointments, or an endless list of options life or the enemy can throw my way.
Any one of us can be duped into thinking that even if we didn’t make Him “first” one day, spend time with Him “first” one day, that we are still going to be okay and regain his proper place. Certainly there is grace for that and life happens and throws all of us curve balls. It isn’t about legalism that I seek to keep straight “who’s on first,” but rather out of an awareness of the truth of a commentary note in my Bible for 1 Samuel 14 that reads as follows:
“When God does not occupy first place, he seldom remains long in second, but is quickly relegated to ever lower standing, until he is forgotten altogether.”
One of the key indicators of “who’s on first” is what time I invest in that relationship. Am I doing for Him or am I growing with Him in intimacy?
How about you?
Who’s on first?