The story is told of a woman who bought a parrot to keep her company, but she returned it the next day. "This bird doesn't talk," she told the owner.
"Does he have a mirror in his cage?" he asked. "Parrots love mirrors. They see their reflection and start a conversation." The woman bought a mirror and left.
The next day she returned; the bird still wasn't talking. "How about a ladder? Parrots love ladders. A happy parrot is a talkative parrot." The woman bought a ladder and left.
But the next day, she was back. "Does your parrot have a swing? No? Well, that's the problem. Once he starts swinging, he'll talk up a storm." The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left.
When she walked into the store the next day, her countenance had changed. "The parrot died," she said. The pet store owner was shocked.
"I'm so sorry. Tell me, did he ever say anything?" he asked.
"Yes, right before he died," the woman replied. "In a weak voice, he asked me, 'Don't they sell any food at that pet store?' "
Sometimes we forget what's really important in life. We get so caught up in things that are good while neglecting the things that are truly necessary. We've got to provide the family with a nice house. And of course, we've got to have at least two cars. And to make everybody truly happy, we need the latest smart phone. But, if we're not careful, we'll make the mistake of thinking those (and many other such "things") are the things that bring us satisfaction and meaning.
The prophet Haggai had a lot to say about priorities. The Jews were spending plenty of time and energy taking care of our own needs, building their own houses, planting their own fields, but they were neglecting the things of God. They were too “busy” for God, but the things that were keeping them busy were not things which should have been of highest priority. "Is it time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" (Haggai 1:4).
We can easily determine what our true priorities are by looking at (1) what we spend our money on, (2) what we spend our time doing, and (3) what we talk about.
Jesus said, "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you." (Matthew 6:33, NCV).
Take a moment to do a "priority check", and strive for what is *most* important today. Don't wait for the parrot to die!