Looking back at 2010 it was, as with all years, filled with many ups and downs. I faced some of the greatest challenges of my life but also found some of the greatest blessings. I could never have predicted what the storms that were to come would be, but I could predict there would be storms. They will come in 2011 as well. Over the years watching the news I have learned that if you live in hurricane country you have a few choices to make, you can either plan and prepare for the storm or you can live in a hole and give up your view of the ocean. We know that the hurricane is coming, life is a hurricane, we know the problems are going to come, how do we prepare for them?
Well you start with keeping first things first:
“You don’t have time to do everything. So you better know what matters and what doesn’t, what’s worth living for and what’s not.” - Rick Warren
Jesus was speaking to a group of people about worry. They were worried about things like food and clothes, the basic necessities of life. It doesn’t get any more basic than what we will eat and what we will wear. But Jesus suggests that there is something that precedes even those basic physiological needs:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
As a pastor of a new and growing church and the Father of a young and growing family, I have plenty of things to worry about. In preparing for the new year and everything that is ahead for us I have identified several areas that I need God’s direction for, so my prayers were very simple: God show me your will.
For days and days that simple request for God’s direction and insight into God’s will for my family, my church and my life consumed my prayer life... that is until God asked a simple question back to me: Why?
My initial answers to God’s question were all good things: I want to walk in line with God’s will, I don’t want to make foolish decisions, I want our direction to be determined by God and nothing else. These are great answers. I want all pastors, small group leaders, sunday school teachers, parents, government officials etc. to desire those things. But as a counselor I am trained that there is always a question behind the question, an answer behind the answer. He asked that because the truth is I was seeking God’s direction because I don’t want to fail, I don’t want to lead others to failure.
I am afraid of failure.
All I was really seeking was for God to meet my own selfish need to succeed. I have a strong desire to see LifePoint succeed in it’s mission but do you want to know the truth? Nobody wants to see the church succeed in reaching the lost and making disciples more than God does himself. Pastor’s have a great temptation to turn their ministries into idols. It is easy to turn anything into an idol if we allow something to even begin to approach the place in our lives that God alone is meant to occupy.
This quote from John Calvin says is plainly:
“The human heart is an idol factory.” - John Calvin
I felt God say to me, “Kelly I want you to know me, seek me, and then you will also know my will.” Out of my fear of failure, out of my desire to succeed, I sought God’s will, just a small fraction of God, when God wants me to seek all of Him! God spoke to me again and I realized something, I was seeking God’s will to the exclusion of seeking God. That’s like taking a small bite when I could have the whole steak!
God wants to be the Lord of all of our lives, not just the portions of our lives that are beyond our control. When we do put him first, giving him that seat of preeminence on the throne of our hearts, then it allows us to begin to fully know him and for him to fully bless us. But our sin, our failure to yield all of our lives to God, restricts him from doing that. I am so thankful that God continues to shine his light into all areas of my life. He is my God and he has my permission to do that and I thank Him for it. I don’t want anything to become an idol in my life.
First things first in 2011, we have to know what is important, and keep it in it’s place.
Grace and Peace,