I remember back in like 1st or 2nd grade Sunday School learning that to have our worldview set correctly (I’m sure not the words they used at the time), we had to use the JOY process. First think of Jesus, then Others, then Yourself. [I was especially amused at this lesson because the woman teaching the class was named Joy and I thought “Wow I will never forget this and what her name means” which has proven true.]
Anyways, simple as that seems, it’s accurate in the scriptures. Matt 22:36-40 says:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
And as I was reading my devotion, I realized that I am not the only one who struggles with this. I know this to be true in my head, but how do I make this come out in my life?
When I was in college, one of the VP’s I worked with, had a hierarchy in his office to remind him of his priorities, with God at the top, then his wife, then his kids, then 3 or 4 other things including his job, his church, etc.
I also am a huge fan of the Visionary Family materials. In them, Dr. Rienow says that he SAYS this to his children. “I love God first, then mommy, then you kids.” When asked by his daughter why she is third, he answers that she HAS to be 3rd because to love her best and right, he has to love God the most, and then mommy.
Well, that makes sense. I also know that the more I say something or read something, the more that truth shines out in everything I do. And I know when I feel “silly” saying it or having it written, that it’s the enemy lying to me, so that I don’t see it and take stock in it.
So with all of those factors in mind, I did my devotion this week. In it, Nina outlined some of what it means to put God first.
- I think of Him first thing in the morning, before I even get out of bed
- I spend time with Him first, before anyone else
- I praise Him first, before asking for anything
- I listen to His thoughts first, instead of giving Him the laundry list of fears and needs of mine
- I ask for His help in understanding His will first, before rattling off my agenda
- I listen to His Word and for His voice first, before deciding a course of action
- I ask Him to purpose my day for His purposes over my own
- I ask Him what He would do first before considering my own opinion or the opinions of others
- I remember Him first when faced with His creation, or decisions, celebrations, or troubles during the day
- I seek Him first with my family members and friends before or instead of offering up my advice and thoughts
- I remember Him first, thanking Him for the day, before closing my eyes and starting sleep
I know that I cannot be perfect at these each and every day. I’m a sinner, after all. But I am hung up on the first two: 1) My first thought in the morning is usually whatever woke me up (this morning it was hunger, then my husband, usually it’s my daughter yelling “MAAAAAAAAH- MAH!”) How does that change? and 2) How do I spend time with Him FIRST, when there’s a crying baby?
And I think the simplest answer is simply to pray. At least that the answer I keep coming back to. This morning, I prayed for my husband who will be at work an exceptionally long time. I heard the baby, but since she wasn’t in distress, I didn’t get up, and instead just enjoyed the (mostly) silence.
I also know that God, while being jealous for my time, attention, love, and devotion, is also a gracious God. He knows that He has blessed me with children. So he knows how I am (not) sleeping. He knows that I might not be able to sit down and get 15 quiet minutes to myself to just read the scriptures, especially not right first thing in the morning, but He knows that all those nights I sat up breastfeeding, that I was just talking with Him. It seemed so natural. In the quiet, in the mostly darkness, to just have a running dialogue.
I am not claiming perfection on the rest of that list. Not even close. But awareness is one of the first parts to correcting an action. If I am aware of the ways that I “thought” I was doing “ok” but that there are ways to improve. [Unfortunately, the more I learn, the more I feel failure and lies enter in, but I continue to seek grace and truth…]
At the beginning of the day, my goal is to set these priorities straight. It’s hard – my kids are beautiful (ultrasound yesterday showed me that Dozer looks JUST like his sister so I know he’s beautiful) and they need so much of my time and energy. My husband needs me to be his helper at home. God shouldn’t get the leftovers. God should get first fruits – just like in tithing or stewardship in general.
Still working on this…