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Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. –Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
It’s smack dab in the middle of winter, and where I live, we are experiencing it all: snow, ice, extreme cold, wind and more snow. The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, although it was cloudy and snowing, so I don’t know how. Although I am a strong advocate of hibernating until spring, I can’t exactly quit my 3 jobs and stop driving my kids to wrestling, basketball, Bible club, youth group . . . you get the idea.
So here I am. Under a blanket, curled up on the couch, praying for the groundhog to be wrong. Just a few more weeks, I’m thinking. If I can hang on through the next 2 or 3 weeks, the sun getting a little bit closer and brighter and warmer each day, I think the worst will be over. Slowly, the temperatures will creep upward and maybe I won’t wake up with headaches from the dry heat blowing over me all night.
Is all this supposed to be some kind of excuse for why my title is true of me? I think that may be how it started out, as a justification for putting God last. As if anything could justify that. Well, I hope you enjoyed my story about winter, because now I’m ready to get real.
So often, I really want to put God’s will first in my life, but it just doesn’t work out that way. For many reasons, He ends up last. See if you can relate to any of these ways I put Him last this week.
1) I didn’t take time to pray and read my Bible.
Sure, I prayed when I had to drive on the highway in that snowstorm, and I led my Sunday School class in prayer, and I prayed along in church on Sunday, and I prayed at prayer meeting on Wednesday. So there’s that. But I didn’t nurture my own personal relationship with God this week by going into my figurative prayer closet, shutting out the world, and spending some quality time alone with God.
My life suffers when I don’t do that. All the TV shows and housework and jobs and outings and meals–and even my kids and spouse, as great as they are–can’t be for me what talking to God and hearing from Him can be in my life.
2) I argued with people I love.
When Jesus told his disciples that they needed to love one another as He had loved them, He made following Him so simple and yet so very hard all at the same time. How many times and in how many ways did I fail to lay my life down for the people who are the closest to me this week? How much time do you have? We could be here all week.
3) I worried about my life.
The verse above, if you read it in context, is all about worrying. That chapter talks about how God takes care of the birds and the flowers, so how much more will He take care of us? When we worry, we are failing to trust God. I worry about things every day. It makes me anxious and irritable and controlling. It takes my mind off God and firmly on the things of this world.
I do better with worrying than I used to. I give myself internal lectures about it, reminding myself that God’s got it under control and that He has good plans for me. I can let things go a lot more than I used to, but still, I find myself asking what if and becoming anxious far too often before I remember to relax and trust God with my life.
4) I did too much and breathed too little.
Did you ever notice that when you’re rushed or under stress, your breathing changes? I find myself holding my breath. Sometimes I don’t even notice it until I start to feel lightheaded or physically ill. I can’t even remember to breathe sometimes because of the ways I have filled up my life with too many things and activities and stuff to get done!
It only stands to reason that if I forget to breathe, I would forget to pray, to just BE with God in those busy times, too. How many times do I give God’s place to something else in my life? Those times never turn out well.
This is my confession. I believe we need to confess our wrongdoings and shortcomings to God and other people. It may not be fun or make us popular but I think it’s important, for us and for other people. Confession is becoming a lost practice in many churches, and I think that we lose something when we don’t do it.
I’m not beating myself up about these things. I know I’m not perfect. I make a lot of mistakes and get a lot of things wrong, but so does everyone else I know. I just need to acknowledge these and other things to God, and He forgives me. What a wonderful thing, to be forgiven.