Focusing on Second Best and Missing the Gold


Photographers—even hobbyists like me—are always on the lookout for photographic gold. You know what I’m talking about. The shots that make the one behind the camera say yes and grin like a Cheshire cat while those later viewing the photos say “Wow” as they experience wonder, joy, peace, or any number of other reactions. Good photographs move us, don’t they?

I find much of my photographic gold in wildlife shots, especially birds. Why birds? Mainly because they’re plentiful here in town where I live. But they are also beautiful and amazing creations of God.

The sanctuary I’ve created for my winged neighbors by providing a backyard bird feeder and bird bath gives me the opportunity to focus on several different visitors on most days. Many of the birds are the ordinary varieties of our region, but every now and then I spot more interesting or seldom-seen-by-me birds stopping by for a snack or a quick refresher at the bird bath.

In my zeal to capture photos of my backyard visitors, sometimes I’ve almost missed seeing an unusual bird because I was so focused on getting shots of the more visible, ordinary birds that stop by. I’ve sometimes missed the photographic gold while focusing on the second best. And boy, do I ever kick myself when that happens.

Missing the gold while focusing on second best can happen in more spheres than just photography, can’t it? Do we perhaps miss the gold of building relationship or memories while doing one more chore or checking off another item on our to-do list from work? Do we spend our spare time pursuing a hobby rather than spending time with an elderly parent or friend? Do we miss time with God while opting instead to stay in bed for another thirty minutes?

Let’s look sharp for the extraordinary in our lives. Let’s not spend so much time focusing on second best that we only catch a fleeting glimpse of the true treasure. Let’s not miss the gold.

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better . . .’” Luke 10:41-42a

*When have you missed the gold while focusing on second best?

*My photo


  1. Elece Holis says

    Good word, Cheryl. I found this true this week when I went to my sister’s Rebecca’s house. My mom and dad are there and I served them soup for lunch and then settled into a chair with a book while they both napped on the bed. (Rebecca and her husband had gone off to the store.) I had wanted to visit since I see them so rarely. I started to read and then Dad snored and I put away my book . I realized what a sweet blessing it was to get to be with my parents for a few minutes and hear them breathing and sleeping. So I just sat and watched them and listened and stored up a memory of being with them.

    • Love that, Elece. Thanks for sharing. Brings tears to my eyes. So glad you realized the gold you had before the opportunity slipped by. I need to be so much more alert to things like this and care more about the gold than whatever else I’m trying to do.

  2. Rachel Davidson Skatvold says

    Thank you for that beautiful message illustration, Cheryl. I tend to get distracted with less important things sometimes. I love being a stay at home mom, but sometimes I feel claustrophobic and keep thinking of other things I should be doing around the house or with my writing. Sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten nothing accomplished at the end of the day. However, after reading this I felt God telling me that what I am doing by taking care of my kids and spending time with them is more important than the other things right now. In this season of life, God has given me a gift, My kids and they are my Gold right now, I think. Thanks Cheryl. I hope you have a blessed day.

    • So glad the post got you to thinking, Rachel. So neat how God spoke to you about what’s important in this season of life. Your kids are definitely your gold. Even though I was a stay at home mom, I know I missed lots of opportunities with mine while focusing on something of lesser importance. God bless as you follow His leading!

  3. Jennifer Dougan says


    what a sharp photo, with great beak action! :) Nice job. My youngest son and I just put out some peanuts, and sliced oranges on our deck railing last night hoping to attract blue jays and incoming eastern bluebirds. What attracts cardinals, do you know?

    Thanks for the analogy in real life too. Musing on that…

    Jennifer Dougan

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Fun to hear how you and your son are trying to attract birds. I have cardinals that like to visit and forage the ground under my birdfeeder (they don’t like to get up on it very often). I use the Pennington Ultra Songbird feed in my feeder, and the info on the package says cardinals are attracted to the sunflower and safflower seeds, the millet, the peanuts, the dried fruit, and the sunflower chips in it. I also toss old grapes, blueberries, and strawberries under the feeder, and the cardinals do like the fruit. Good luck!

Leave a Comment