I get a little nervous this time of year. Beginnings make me feel like I need to start over, make lists, rearrange things, set goals. Then I just get overwhelmed with it all. I throw my hands up in the air and sit down…right back where I was.
Everyone else seems to be cutting out sugar, buying gym memberships, setting up budgets and writing their goals on sticky notes. I like sugar. And because I’m not great with budgets, I can’t afford a gym membership. And sticky notes are too sticky. They leave no wiggle room.
Yeah, I’m a wimp when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like making them because I can’t imagine keeping them.
Now, I have nothing at all against you if you’ve already written your goals in your perpetual journal and scheduled your appointment with your personal trainer. If you’ve already shopped the perimeter of the grocery store and stocked your fridge with unfamiliar veggies and seeds and berries…you go, girl! I admire you, I really do.
And I’ll do a little of that, too. Just so you know. Really, I will.
Actually, I’m a rules follower kind of gal. So if I start something I usually stick with it. For instance, as I’m writing this post I’ve just completed 128 consecutive days of studying Italian with Duolingo. Because I can do that while sitting on my sofa…in my pajamas…eating a sugar cookie. *Grin* (Anche andro in Italia…uno di questi giorni!)
Yes, I have a few goals in mind for 2017, including exercising regularly, eating from the perimeter aisles of the grocery store more and sticking with my Italian lessons. But honestly specific goals haven’t captivated my heart this year as much as one word has: priority.
Did you know that when the word “priority” originated it did not include a plural option. There was no such word as “priorities.” In fact, “priorities” would have been an oxymoron…a word that contradicted itself. We’ve coined the word “priorities” to accommodate our modern dilemma of “too much.”
Priority means the most important. It doesn’t mean one of the most important. The priority is the most crucial, the one that must be accomplished before anything else can be, the one you fight for because it is that valuable.
Jesus set our one priority for us in Matthew 6:33:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
According to Jesus, if I choose consistently to prioritize my relationship with God above all other things, I will be more successful at accomplishing all the other goals on my New Year’s resolutions list. In fact, I think we can deduce from His statement that if we put other things–even noble goals such as exercising, eating right, achieving our professional pursuits, serving charitably and investing in our families–before that one priority, we’ll find ourselves frustrated, exhausted and empty.
How does this work in the everyday? When the demands on our time and energy mount up–and they will–how do we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness?”
Jesus answered that question for Martha of Bethany while she was wiping her busy hands on her apron and blowing a little steam about her sister Mary’s priority.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
What had Martha’s sister Mary chosen as her priority? She had positioned herself in Jesus’ presence where she was listening to His words and fixing her eyes on Him. Mary let the dishes pile in the sink and neglected to set the table because she made Jesus her priority.
Like Martha, we’ll find ourselves with many things on our to-do lists in the coming year. We’ll have days when we feel like the world rests on our shoulders. We’ll look around and realize if we don’t do “it” nobody will. We’ll wrestle with how to meet the deadlines at work and still fulfill our responsibilities at home or church.
And we’ll ask Jesus a question similar to Martha’s, “Lord, do You not care about all these responsibilities You gave me? What am I suppose to do about all of these chores and responsibilities and goals and dreams and demands on my time?”
And I think Jesus would respond to us much the same way He answered Martha’s frustration. He’d remind us that there is really only one priority. Only one. Him.
I know that seeking Jesus first…taking time with Him early in your morning, giving Him your full attention, sitting at His feet, lingering in His Word and savoring His presence…seems like an indulgence sometimes. I know it feels (heaven forbid!) like a waste of time even. Yeah, it does. But that’s an emotional perception fueled by the enemy’s deceptions.
When I make spending time with Jesus my priority, the priority, my one priority, I find that everything else in my life eventually falls into place. Yes, I may have to leave some dishes in the sink for a few hours (or days) and I may have to tell someone, “No, not this time, thank you.” But eventually, after I have learned to order my days around my one priority, I will find that all my other goals and pursuits and plans fall into their proper place. It may sound impossible, but life will actually be richer, sweeter, more peaceful and fuller when I make pursuing a relationship with Jesus my one priority.
How will you make your relationship with the Lord your one priority this year?
If you’re looking for a devotional guide or Bible study to help you with the discipline of sitting at Jesus’ feet, you might like to look through the resources I’ve written and make available here at my website. If you’re wrestling with how to make Jesus your one priority, I suggest you start with Satisfied…at Last!