Putting God First…
…in the morning.
There are some things as a Christian that I’ll admit I struggle with: cussing, parenting in a picture of Christ, and completely putting God first. Believe me, there’s more. I don’t want you to have to sit in front of a computer screen for that long though. Kidding. Or… am I? Let’s get real, super transparent here. I’ll start with the sound of my alarm. Beep… Beep… Beep… Grumble, hit snooze, toss, snore, more beeps, another snooze, and aggravation that I actually have to adult today. Mistake one. God made this day. I already don’t appreciate it from the get go. I will later on, but in the here and now I’m pissed. ß I’m a Christian, but I cuss a little. I said let’s get transparent. Oh, and make sure not to throw stones or your glass house may break into a million tiny pieces. Anyway, this is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. At 5:45 AM? Ugh. Ok, so do I turn off my alarm instead and Lion King “Circle of Life” the whole house while I hold my 5 month old baby over the stair rail like I’m showing him off to the whole Kingdom? Maybe not that extreme. How about this: Beep… Beep… Beep… Thank you God for this morning, my family, my health, my life, my job, everything you have given me. Amen. Plain and simple, He gets the glory. He is first.
So, is that all I have to do? No way, man. Being a Christian and putting God first in all you do is hard work. Got kids? Ummm… Where do I start here? Struggle 2, and lifetime struggle I fear, is that they don’t understand the concept of putting God first yet and won’t for quite a while. Got a faint heart? Molding tiny people may not be for you then. I feel like I have to daily war paint my face and run through the house with battle roars to herd my army into the car for school. They resist. They refuse to get out of bed without multiple threats, fake fart noises, or singing crazy stuff, or tickles, or just being plain mean. Each morning they are blanketed tightly in a different personality. You don’t know which one you’ll get until you open the blanket package. Most of the mornings out pops two whiny ticked off children. If you have advice on how to put God first and be a picture of Christ while parenting the rebellion… I’m all ears. Really though, just survive. Try not to cuss at them or ruin their lives. Love them the way Christ would. I’m not sure how that is exactly because he didn’t have children of his own. He would’ve been a boss at it though. Love. Patience. Hard work. Repeat.
…in the car.
Kids get to watch Space Jam in French version while being ticked about it, because I can’t fix it while driving. Why’d you push the button, dude? Why did you try to eat the cord to the head phones? Why are you throwing stuff in the front seat at me? Stop touching the baby. Don’t talk to each other. Don’t look at each other. Don’t breathe on each other. Distractions and rage fill my soul. Someone cuts me off in traffic or pulls out in front of me and drives 30 miles an hour in a 55. Oh, you’re gonna turn after you pull out in front of me? Cool. “You’re an idiot! Where did you learn to drive? How are you sooooo terrible at this? You literally practice every time you get behind the wheel. Shouldn’t you be expert level at this point?” Those are things that come out of my mouth. Road rage on top of parent rage is not pretty. My kids notice and sometimes tell me what I say isn’t nice. I get even more aggravated. What could I do differently? I’m still stumped on parenting. But, the road rage. That all starts because I’m running late. Remember I hit snooze a couple times and cussed about it? Right, my fault. So, get up early, thank God, pray, and maybe road rage won’t be off the charts. For the times I’m not late but still have road rage: That person who pulled out in front of me, maybe it was an accident. Maybe it wasn’t. In that moment if I don’t forgive them but continue to rage at them for pulling out in front of me, that shows my children that raging out when they’re aggravated is the go to. Hey, there’s a parenting revelation! Also, what if that person was having parenting rage like me? What if they’re late too? What if they’re sick? What if they just got terrible news yesterday and didn’t sleep at all. What if they’re going through a divorce? Depressed? Have Cancer? Elderly? Handicapped? Their Mom or Dad is dying or just passed away. Perspective. I can’t really be a picture of Christ to that person while in another vehicle. But, I can be a picture of Christ to my Children during that moment. I can pray in that moment for peace and patience and calmness for myself and most importantly for that other person. That’s putting God first.
Okay, so that’s a glimpse of the two most difficult times of the day where my stress level is off the charts. What about the rest of the world? We all have the tendency as Christians to use God only when we need him. What if he did the same for us? He puts us first always, yet we sometimes only put him first when it’s convenient. Here are a few other areas I can think of where God is put on the back burner:
…in what we consume.
The new iPad, TV, Xbox, PlayStation, Jewelry, Car, Vacation, etc. Each year there’s always something that comes out that’s bigger and better and almost always something that takes time away from family and God. This is one of society’s biggest downfalls from Christ. How much more time could we spend growing closer to God and our family if we didn’t have our phone in our faces all the time? Guilty. Allot time for God first. How much time do you have left? Spend some with your family. Still have time left? Cool. Use a sliver of it for yourself.
Here at Christmas time especially I get super sick thinking about ALL THE CONSUMPTION. The Wisemen brought gifts to baby Jesus in the Bible. Somehow this got twisted in the mix. Now WE get the gifts? Why? What great thing did we do to save the whole world from sin? Nothing. We did nothing. Sure it’s fun and all to get gifts, and there’s a way you can Celebrate Christmas and still be as true to the real meaning as you can. Honestly though, do you get as sick as I do when you think about the people experiencing famine, genocide, terrorism, sex trafficking, homelessness, and other things we can’t even fathom while we spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on gifts for other people? I mean, we technically spend money on presents to get presents back. It just seems silly, but we still do it. What if every single Christian put half, even a quarter of the normal amount of money they spend toward a general fund to help combat some of these worldly issues? How awesome would that be? One step at a time toward world peace is all it takes to make a change. Christianity rise up!
…in the storm.
Divorce, death, financial troubles, addiction, stress, depression, sickness, etc. Major events either draw us near or drive us from him. Which way do you go? Trusting in someone you can’t physically see or feel is scary to some of us. How do you do it? You’ve prayed and prayed and your marriage still failed. A whole church congregation prayed for someone to be healed from cancer but they passed away anyway. Where was God? His plans aren’t always our plans. While during hard times we cannot often understand, but we can trust that his plan is the way life is supposed to go. Is it easy? No. Our biggest growth areas in life come from our hardest times, deepest pains, and most difficult struggles. Why?
…because everyone struggles.
So, how can our struggle or pain be used to help the next person along? You will be surprised at what and who God puts in your path. I can testify that only when I put complete trust in God during the storms in my life did I see an actual change in my situation and life outcome. How did I do it? I prayed endlessly. I humbled myself. I got super involved in church, serving whenever and wherever I could. Doing that always showed me that life could be way worse than my current situation. I got into my bible. I studied. I breathed everything God sent my way. The thing is God reveals different paths for different people during the storm. Open your eyes and pray for each person who has a need to be revealed to you. Ask him to use you in whatever way he needs. This is to benefit not only a person in need but yourself as well. Here’s another tough one: If you’re in a situation where someone else is causing trouble in your life and situation that you cannot control try this: “God I know that you created and love everyone. Please let me see him/her in your eyes. What can I do to see the weakness in this situation and create positivity? How can I help them?” Believe me, this is hard. This is extremely hard when you’re really mad at someone and want bad, bad things to happen to them. Try it next time and take note of the otcome. Lastly, pray for his will, not your want. This is one of the hardest things to comprehend and accept in prayer. 1 John 5:14-15 says: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we ask of him.” You want to land that job that would be a life changer for you and your family so you pray to God that he allows it to happen. It doesn’t. What if you had prayed for his will to be done instead? If you prayed for his will AND actually trusted that he had your best interest in mind (no matter how hard it would make your life by not getting the job) then what you prayed for would truly come true. Not getting that job might be a life saver for you. What if He knew that if you got that job and one day on the way to work you were going to get into a fatal car accident? This accident would leave your family fatherless, husbandless, without any income, no life insurance, etc. God knew and saw this. Maybe he had more work for you to do, more lives for you to impact, and more time for you to have with your family here on earth. Maybe you aren’t saved and he gave you that extra time to struggle and ask him to come into your heart. Had your prayers been answered and you landed the job you may never have faced extreme struggle, learned to turn to and trust in him, and not have ever been saved. His will is always greater than your want. Struggles cause us to either grow or break. And, we don’t always know what is best for us.
…in passion and excitement.
What do you get excited about? Do you get pumped about shopping? Sports? Money? Success? Where do your passions lie? Think about how much good you could do if you used half of that excitement to tell people how God has worked in and changed your life. Are you grateful for his work? Make it known. Get pumped about helping others find God. You know that He is life changing and eternal. Of course you want others to know how it feels, but how do you get excited about it like you would a basketball game? Put God first in all you do and see where your passions then fall. It’s perfectly fine to get excited about other things, but God will change your priorities and passions if you allow him to. He has given us all spiritual gifts to use to reach others. What is your gift? Ask him to open your eyes, and then don’t ignore the gift he reveals no matter how big or small.
Proverbs 3:6-8 “In everything you do put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”
God first, bro. He will change your life.