Currently I'm getting over the flu and tending to my younger two children, one who's a day ahead of me on said flu, and the other who is three days behind. I'm praying my oldest and my hubby somehow avoid the whole event. But as I was laying in bed this morning waiting for them to wake up and wondering why my oldest didn't make his daily call/text to let me know he made it to school safely, my somewhat distracted mind wandered to this blog, with a little guilt and a little regret over the way it's been neglected lately.
Short on inspiration for spiritual encouragement I was wondering what I should write about. I like this to be a place to lift and encourage hearts in Christ, and so that's always my hope, for a "good word." But I feel like I've kind of been circling a desert lately in the spiritual sense. I don't feel like I'm actually IN the desert, but I am definitely close enough to feel affected by the dry climate and the heat. It's hard because as I wander near it, I remember what it was like to actually be IN the desert. My journey there before wasn't self-inflicted. It was a long and difficult time as I wandered there. I remember one of my dearest friends kept looking at me in desperation. She could see I was struggling, wandering, and she wanted so much to help. She shared scripture after scripture, she prayed, tried to encourage, but sometimes the desert just remains. She found that our for herself later. Sometimes... the desert just remains.
The dry air and heat that are spiritually kissing at my heels these days isn't a desert I've been carried to this time. This time I think my wandering has been self-inflicted. Not completely self-inflicted, but there is definitely enough personal responsibility to give it serious consideration. It's not as though I have fallen into some deep sin, at least not in the classic sense, but I've just let life get a little askew. As I type this though, a scripture comes to mind.
listen closely to what I say.
Don't ever forget my words;
keep them always in mind.
They are the key to life for those who find them;
they bring health to the whole body.
Be careful what you think,
because your thoughts run your life.
Don't use your mouth to tell lies;
don't ever say things that are not true.
Keep your eyes focused on what is right,
and look straight ahead to what is good.
Be careful what you do,
and always do what is right.
Don't turn off the road of goodness;
keep away from evil paths.
Proverbs 4: 20-27
Sigh, do the same words that stand out to me, stand out to you? Let me list them as they come... pay, listen... don't... keep, be, look.... each one is a word of (gulp) personal responsibility. They directives, things I ought to be doing, because (the scripture says) they are the key to life. Ok, specifically that reference is to the Word, but I'm not going to try to bargain my way out of this one, clearly they are all tightly wound and intertwined, important enough that the Lord has given this directive, and something I'm pretty sure I haven't given the attention and effort it's due.
Bottom line, my priorities have gotten off. I haven't let "first things" be first. I was talking with a precious loved one earlier and she was talking about this great new venture the Lord seems to be blessing, and she's a little concerned about being overwhelmed by it. I told her it's "all about prioritizing." With confidence I assured her, it's clear. God first, then family (which breaks down into hubby, then kids, then loved ones then self) then home, then everything else (like her venture) and God will work it out if it's meant to be. She was a little surprised by my family break down, for a moment, she said "Not kids before hubby?" and let me take an short rabbit trail here by sharing with you my emphatic "NO!" Hubby has to come first, your marriage is the core of your family, and I think most women miss that, tending to their kids over their marriage. Someday your kids will be grown and gone, but you made a vow to God and your husband to love, honor and cherish him for the rest of your life. So yeah, don't be one of those couples who after 20-some years of marriage get a divorce when all the kids leave because somewhere along the line you lost sight of the covenant you made. (End rabbit trail.) I have also elaborated here, from what I said to her, to add "loved ones" to the family mix. People God places in our lives, and people ALWAYS come before the "stuff of our lives. People are what really matter. It may mean laying aside a to do list because a person in need crosses your path and you have to put aside your agenda to minister to their hurt or need, you have to be able to go "with the flow."
Gosh, don't I sound like I really have a handle on this? And the sad thing is, I totally "get it," but getting it and doing it are two entirely different things. I KNOW what my priorities should be, but in practicalities, it's not what they clearly are.
So I know I've been a little vague to exactly where things have gone askew, where the neglect is actually occurring, that's because I don't want to tell you.... Kidding! Does that sound like me at all?
It's my First Love that I have neglected. What a scary place that is to be. It brings to my mind Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Now by no means have I left my First Love... but neglecting it certainly seems like a step toward that.
I have not been in the Word, my personal worship is non-existent and my prayer life is nearly so. I quite simply just haven't taken the time. The other things, on the surface, don't seem so askew, but if the foundation (the top priority) is off, then everything is off. I may be doing my best in the other areas, but I am not doing the best because what I am doing I'm doing in my own (depleted) power and strength. I'm setting myself up to actually get sucked in to the center of the desert I'm circling.
Thankfully after the warning in Revelation 2:4 comes the answer to the problem in verse 5. It says, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works..." Now I'm no bible scholar, and I may be completely missing the deeper meaning to this passage, but what it speaks to me is about getting back to caring for my relationship with my First Love. I need to put Him back in His place, in the center, and on the throne of my life.
I think of the early days of my walk with Him and the way I would consume the Word (the area I think is most desperately dry) and through the seasons of growth and depth, being in the Word was constant. Truly that is a catalyst for change in my personal worship and prayer life as well.
This post has gone off in a completely different direction from where my mind was when I started. That usually means the Lord is in the mix. I hope somehow this has encouraged someone, marveling at the fact that even when I am "off" the Lord can still use me. It humbles me, and it makes me hungry, for the Bread of Life.