Thursday, March 31, 2011

But seek ye first the kingdom of God

Continuing on the Heart-Searching series:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Matthew 6:33

Is there anything in which you have failed to put God first?

Well, probably most things.  I am not even sure what this means.  I try to keep God in the forefront of all that I do, I feel like I am in His presence all the time.  I try to go about my day in a manner that I think would be pleasing to Him.  But - I know that I don't take the time to pray like I ought.  I pray all day, in my head (a favorite quote "Thinking and praying are not the same thing" Andree Seu, World Magazine).  I pray with the boys before school, before meals, when we get in the car, at bedtime; I lay in bed at night and pray for my husband, and it is usually my first waking thought, to pray for him.

But to sit alone, in my closet, and really pour my heart out to God.....doesn't happen much.  I guess I do other things instead.  Like blog.  I do take the time each day to be in the Word, though. 

Have your decisions been made after your own wisdom and desires, rather than by seeking and following God's will?

I am learning to be more patient and seek God's will.  It is hard.  I try to act as I think He would have me.  When I compare my thought and decision-making process now to when I was unsaved, I can certainly see the difference.  Following God's will is now an underlying foundation.  But in everything?  Does God care if I buy clothes on line just because they were on sale - even if I don't "need" them?  I can convince myself that wants are needs pretty quickly.  I think alot of this goes back to the previous question, and how much time I spend in prayer, seeking after God's will.  Amazing how this stuff all ties together.

Do any of the following in any way interfere with your surrender and service to God: ambition, pleasures, loved ones, friendships, desires for recognition, money, your own plans?

I guess it depends on what you mean by "service".  Is service just face time at church and activities?  I know I have often thought that.  In years past, when I was busy-busy (and therefore, "holy") at church, I would be torn because on  one hand, I did not like the self-imposed pressure to always have my kids in some program or have to find something to do with them so we could be at something - be it a potluck, a banquet, VBS, a womens group, whatever.  But on the other - since I WAS doing so much (VBS, Art Camp, teaching Sunday School, womens' book club, whatever else sounded like fun) I could feel like I was really out there and really serving God and part of the club.  No one ever told me this, I somehow came up with this brilliance on my own.

I don't think that is the appropriate attitude to take towards service.

And I don't do all that stuff anymore.  One obvious reason is that we don't attend a church with lots of activities.  But I don't make it to all of that even.  Sometimes other ministries we are involved in, or the kids' activities, are already on the schedule.  While I would not deliberately choose an activity for the boys that would keep us from church (example, would not be on a team that had practices or games that would cause us to miss church), sometimes the occasional mid-week or weekend activities overlap.  Each individual commitment has to be weighed on a case by case basis.

But is that really all there is to surrender and service?  I don't think so.  I think that we are called to serve our families.  Not to elevate our spouse and children to be idols - but my role at this time is to serve them.  God has called me to homeschool my children, to maintain a home for them, to raise them, to be a helpmeet to my husband in his business as well as the home - I feel God has CALLED me to this, as surely as he calls some to serve even unto the ends of the earth.  Some days my kitchen table FEELS like the ends of the earth, but that is another post!

God also calls me (us, you, we) to serve in various capacities through the church, other ministries, and our community.  That list is as individual as each one of us.

So, what gets in the way of my serving, as I am called to serve?  I guess the two killers are "my own plans" and "pleasures". 

I usually have a list and I usually have plans for my day/week/month/year.  I have, over the last few years, learned to loosen my grip on my planner, one finger at a time.  I am getting more flexible, more able to roll with the punches.  I want to be more available to jump and serve as a need arises.  I want to serve my friends with hospitality.  I want to serve our homeschool group by doing the newsletter and planning activities.  I want to serve our local pregnancy care center by helping to raise awareness and necessary funds.  I want to have the time to serve my family in all the ways they need me.  So I need to be flexible, as most of life does not happen between 6:00 - 8:30 a.m. (my peak hours of operation).

And what about pleasures?  Would I prefer to curl up in my chair and read a book, or play on Facebook and homeschool forums than make phone calls to organize a Lifewalk?  Or log homeschool hours in the computer?  Or clean a bathroom?  Well, yes!  But not all the time.  This is not to say that we are not to have pleasure in our lives, as long as our pleasure is not the FIRST thing we think of.  As long as I am not so busy reading my book that I miss the opportunity God has for me.

And that is what they are, you know - opportunities.  Opportunities to serve, opportunities to pray, opportunities to study His word, to learn of His great love and mercy for His children.  Let's not let our great opportunities be replaced by ordinary time-fillers.

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