There once was a man with many hats–too many, in the opinion of others, but not in own eyes. True, he would sometimes feel a twinge of guilt in owning many hats that he never wore. Day after day, as he entered his closet, the hats would wave, as it were, “Here I am. Wear me.” This daily greeting oppressed him, until he finally concluded that he must wear more than one hat at once.
Imagine the spectacle. There was the man with many hats walking into town with two, three, or four on his head, sometimes more. To do this, he learned to “balance” many hats at once–something he had learned once in a seminar. He even learned to “prioritize” his hats, knowing which hat should go on first, and so forth. After a while, he felt quite proud at his accomplishment. Compared to others, who typically wore only one hat at a time, he clearly could accomplish more.
At least, that is what he thought. Two problems plagued him. First, there remained the feeling that this was all artificial justification. The “quality time” he gave to each hat consisted of little more than an hour or two a week, surely not enough time to justify the activity or enhance the relationship with that hat. Visibly, each hat showed no wear, except for his favorite ball cap that he snuck on every so often. Again, he doubted whether he should have so many hats. Second, the “balance” theory did not hold well when he faced windy days–the so-called adversities of life–when hats went flying everywhere and often lay for days in the fields before he eventually found them. Something needed to be done.
The answer appeared to come through his reading of history. Others before him had owned many hats. How did they accomplish this feat? One man, to his great amazement, had worn close to twenty hats on his hat with regularity. Even thought this historical man had died of a stroke in his fifties, his philosophy of hats so impressed the man with many hats that he converted it into a proverb:
“Only work things one by one;
Wholly work them till they’re done.”
The problem, he concluded, was trying to wear more than one hat at one time. Away with such a silly habit! From now on, he would wear just one hat at a time.
To his satisfaction, this worked well for a time. Now the hat he wore received the attention it deserved, even to the point of getting fully broke in. For the first time in his life, the man with many hats was accomplishing things. Again, he felt superior and congratulated himself on his accomplishments.
Still, there were many hats to wear. By wearing only one hat at a time, the man began to stay up later and to get up earlier, even trying to wear his hat to bed at night, much to his wife’s dismay. Now what would he do? He could not sustain this pace for long; but it was hard to give up, given the sense of satisfaction he felt over his accomplishments. Desperate, he tried the priority game again, making elaborate schedules and devoting allotted times for each hat. Inevitably, some hat was left unworn, and some person was sent away rebuffed for interrupting his hat-wearing schedule. Not even his family felt loved, for his drive to wear each hat began to consume his energy and thought. It was hard work coordinating all those hats, and he was determined to do it, even if it killed him.
In the end, it did. How vain that he had spent his years on hats, when so many friends and family longed for his time! How vain that he had spent his years in grief, when God was so willing to give him sleep! How tragic that he did not see the problem was not priority, but superfluity! He had too many hats, more than God wanted him to have or enabled him to wear. It was a mixture of pride and self-love that kept the man from letting go of some of his hats. Oh that you and I would learn to hope in God, letting Him prune us and casting on Him the cares beyond our ability! It is His will that on average those whom He loves receive a good night sleep, perhaps with a cozy nightcap.
Texts: Psalms 127:1-2; 131:1-3.