Donâ€™t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever. Â Â Â Â Â 1 John 2:15-17 (CEV)
I think the word that I need to think about here is â€œloveâ€. It’s a word that I toss around a lot. â€œI love pizzaâ€ or â€œI love the L.A. Lakersâ€. Now I do think that pizza is a basic food group but I don’t have feelings for pizza like I do my husband. I know a guy who watches every Laker game â€“ but I also know his love for his wife is far above what he feels about that basketball team.
And there is the point. What I truly think and feel about someone or something can be evaluated by the amount of time, attention, and priority that I give. As a parent I can say I love my child but if we spend little time together, what is the message? Or if we spend time together in the same room but never turn off the TV or video game and close the book to actually talk and play together, how well can we know each other?
It is so hard to live in the world and not get sucked into the world’s way of thinking. The job must have a priority because, well, the bank and power company will only take money for bills, not prayers. If I am going to eat healthy and keep myself fit then I have to carve out time for exercise and make more money for fresh fruits and vegetables or carve out more time to grow a garden. And I want to relax and spend some â€œdownâ€ time with my family and friends so there has to be time and money for vacation. All this â€“ and yet, I know that God is my first priority. How do I juggle all of this? How do I put God first in my time and attention and still do the rest? What is the â€œsecretâ€ to the wisdom and balance?
It is in my heart. It is in what I truly love. The LORD told Jeremiah that â€œThe heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cureâ€ (Jeremiah 17:9). So how can I trust what my heart tells me? I can’t unless I am actively and consistently seeking the help of God’s Spirit to guide and direct me in my daily schedule. Let me give you a life-changing example that happened to me.
I was in a management job that required 50-60 hours/week. My older children were 15-16 years-old, my youngest was 7. They were involved in sports and music. Five people living in a home and running as hard as they could in various directions. I remember so clearly looking at the picture of my children on my desk one day and thinking â€œJ & J will be graduating and leaving home in two years. What conversations do I want to have with them before they leave? And I actually have to spend time with them to have the conversations!â€ God saw my heart and knew that I realized the need as I made the commitment to focus more on my family before my job. Circumstances unfolded and made it possible for me to transfer and take a different position. God was faithful and so very wise.
Too often I can push God into a â€œvending machineâ€ position and bring only my crisis pleas and requests. God wants more. He wants me to bring Him my every day life. He wants to guide me in scheduling and priorities. He wants to show me His wisdom and faithfulness and extraordinary love that He has for me. That means that if I am uncertain, stressed, and confused about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of my life, Jesus can navigate me through to the path that is the best path. â€œHow can He?â€ Well, He is God and He does love me.
Breathe by Marie Barnett (1995) sung by Michael W. Smith