Sunday, September 7, 2014

What's Important?

As a little girl, I used to keep a diary from time to time.  Frequently, I would skip several days, even months of writing and every time I would finally write again, I would apologize to my diary.  Perhaps, I was really apologizing to myself for not being more consistent.  I'm still like this in many ways.  I am one to begin a project and either forget about it and never finish or I simply come back to it much later.  This is one area where I wish I could improve.  As a mom with many children, it is so easy to leave many unfinished projects.  Prioritizing which ones are the most important is also a challenge.

One of my newer projects that I've begun is writing a book.  A little presumptuous?  Maybe, but I am excited about it.  I have already learned so much as I've read, researched and spent time putting my thoughts to paper, or rather in a document on the computer.  I have always enjoyed writing.  I've always been able to express myself much better in writing than in talking.  Don't get me wrong.  I love to talk to people, but many times the words are just not there for what I really want to say.  At other times, I've had the opportunity of finding out what my shoe leather tastes like.  In writing, I am much more careful in what I choose to say.  I have more time to think before I write.  Perhaps, I should practice being careful in what I say when speaking to people, especially my own family.

So, where was I going?  See what I mean.  I am a very distracted person.  "Squirrel!"  This is why finishing things I start is a challenge.  This is why deciding what the most important priorities are and sticking to them can be so difficult.  Right now, I am looking at a huge pile of ironing that I've been neglecting.  Of course, I did do some laundry this morning, so that counts.  There are countless things that need to be done around my home, not to mention getting back into the routine of home schooling, but what are the most important things?  When we try to break it down to the most important things, we need to remember what God desires.  We can do many good things, but maybe we aren't focusing on the best things.

As a Christian, the most important priority is drawing closer to the Lord.  Spending time in His Word, talking to Him, listening to Him, and worshipping Him are the ways in which we can grow in our walk with Him.  I wish I had hours to simply focus on Him, but even though I can't do all of these things as much as I would like, I can draw closer to Him throughout the day.  During whatever menial tasks I am engaged in at the moment, I can pray, I can worship, I can recall Scripture. I find that my mind can be such a battlefield.  Fear, worry and complaining so easily invade my thoughts each day.  These things do not honor God.  Following the Lord is the hardest thing in life because we are constantly battling self.  Even in prayer, I battle these things.  My prayers can sometimes sound like a huge gripe session or many times, I am so distracted that I'm only thinking of what I need to do after I'm done talking with the Lord.  I need His help in prayer.  Only He knows what I truly need and only He can quiet my soul when everything else seems to be competing for my attention.
As a wife, my husband needs to be my next priority.  All too often, I only see the urgent needs of the children or my house that I forget him.  He needs an encouraging word, a loving touch, tasks done without complaining and even interrupting my own schedule to let him know that he is important to me.  It is much easier to roll my eyes or get irritated when I see he has needs, but when I die to myself and to my own agenda, my husband is blessed and God is glorified.  Now, there are times that other needs arise, pressing needs.  You know, like a fire on the stove or kids hanging off of the walls.  That's when Hubby has to take a backseat temporarily, but most of the time he is to come after God.  That's just how it's supposed to work. 

As a Mommy, my children are next in line.  Now obviously, they have some very visible needs.  Feeding them, keeping little ones clean, enforcing bedtimes and even keeping the house clean are needs that our children have.  Then there are the not so visible needs like comforting them, reassuring them, listening to their hopes and dreams and most importantly their need to know their Creator.  This need is in all of us, but as parents, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to direct our children to their loving Creator.  They are watching us as we pray, as we worship and as we handle different situations that arise.  I tremble at the thought that I have such a direct influence on eight little lives in our home.  I thank the Lord everyday that even though I fail, that He can use me to point them to Him. 

As I think about our next priorities, I realize that this is where great discernment is needed.  Our neighbors, whether they be next door to us, those we worship with, those in our communities or even people throughout our country or around the world should be after our families.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ need to be encouraged.  Our next door neighbor may need a meal.  Those that need Christ need to hear the Gospel and need to see it being lived out in our lives.  The hungry need fed.  The persecuted Church needs our prayers.  There are so many ways that we as Christians can reach out and bring glory to God.  I said that great discernment is needed for a couple of reasons.  Sometimes in our zealous tendencies to "make a difference" in this world, we forget our first priorities.  Yes, I need to love my neighbor and be a living testimony for the Lord, but if my own relationship with the Lord, with my husband or my children fail, then these great intentions for God amount to nothing.  As home school moms, we can tend to be so busy outside the home, running our little darlings to educational experiences or even giving of our time to help those in the community that our homes actually suffer.  Our husband's and our children's needs can be put on the back burner.  Our houses will be ones of disorder which leads to frustration for its occupants.  Yes, I mean that we really should clean our homes from time to time!  On the flip side, when we hold to our schedules so religiously that there is no breathing room for anyone else, then we are wrong.  Our children need to see that there are others in this world besides themselves and Mom's precious schedule.  Sometimes, a gift of bread to a neighbor or welcoming an unexpected visitor into our home is more important than when we accomplish our math or English lessons.  We must be sensitive to the Lord's leading in all of these things.

Have you noticed where self has been placed?  Yes, last.  This is not an admonition to false humility.  Nor is it a chance for me to say, "See how humble I am?"  Of course, we must take care of ourselves, physically, mentally and all of the other "lys" that follow, but our Lord is always first, our husbands second, our children third and others fourth.  We cannot come before them.  I have not gotten a hold of this yet.  As I have said, the battle with self is fierce, but we must recognize where our place is.  Remember, in James 4:6, it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble".  And, in Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves".  We are reminded from Scripture again and again that God is to get all of the glory for everything and that we are to die daily to ourselves and our own ambitions.  We hear from the world and even other Christians how we need to take care of ourselves.  I get it all of the time when folks find out about our large family, which doesn't really seem that large to me.  "Oh, Honey.  You need to take some time for yourself!"  There's also been a focus on physical health that has crept into Christianity.  We hear it all of the time from the world.  Trying to stay young and living long lives have been idolized, but I'm seeing it more and more in the Church.  This will step on some toes, but an almost god-like quality has been given to things like essential oils, exercise, eating whole foods and so many other areas.  I am not saying these things are bad, but we need to be so cautious that we remember our quest is not to live healthier physical lives, but to be renewed in our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit.  So much time is given to getting back to a healthier lifestyle, but not much time is given to the Lord.  News flash!  We are dying.  Our bodies are just a shell for our eternal souls and I desire so much to devote my attention towards the eternal and not the temporal.  It all goes back once again to priorities.  What's important to you?  If good health is your god, than you are sinning.  If keeping everything perfectly organized is your god, stop it.  If your children or your husband come before God, you are wrong.  We need to get on our knees and repent of our idols.  We need to repent when our priorities are out of whack and when we have forgotten what is really important.  

So, I have finished writing this blog post.  Wow.  I finished something!  Seriously, writing today has been a good reminder to me of what my priorities should be.  May God help me to live it.  I long for Him to be my highest priority.  I want to love my husband, my children and my neighbors with the love of Christ.  May God be praised above all things.  Soli Deo Gloria!

"Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is.  That which is good and acceptable and perfect".  Romans 12:1-2

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