Choosing Jesus First
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I just finished eating a large piece of chocolate layer cake. It was very, very good! However, I am pre-diabetic and trying to lose weight. So, not a great choice. But it was my choice; no-one tied me down and stuffed the cake in my mouth! BTW, I did lose 6 pounds in January, but I think that was due more to illness than to effort!!
So, why am I sharing this? In a strange way, it kind of parallels what I’m experiencing in my writing. Which is just this: I’m not doing the work! January was tough, but I’m doing much better health-wise. It’s time to get back to my regular writing and blogging routines.
Why, then, am I not? Inertia? Lost my drive? Don’t care enough anymore? I was just looking over my blog calendar and counted eleven skipped posting dates. Nothing posted. Nothing written. A couple of things started, but never finished. And just like eating that piece of cake, those were my choices.
My choices are those that make my future either better or worse. My choices. My life. My decisions. Notice anything? It’s all about me. Where is my Savior in this scenario? He’s where He always is; waiting for me to choose Him.
Choosing Jesus First
As Matthew 6:33 says, choosing Him first makes the rest of life so much easier. Not easier in the way a winning lottery ticket would. But easier because it helps me to filter out so many competing voices demanding my time and attention. When I put Him first, clarity and focus are only two of the many blessings I receive.
The same could hold true for you, if you choose Jesus first. But making that switch from me-focused living to Christ-focused living isn’t easy. One reason it’s difficult is that Christ-focused living simply requires more effort on my part. I have to continually readjust, renew, refocus on eternal priorities. Doing nothing requires almost nothing from me. I can easily waste away my entire life, just coasting. Or even pretending to myself that I have no choice, that I cannot affect the outcome of my own life.
Pretending to myself. Wasting time. Taking the easy path. Refusing to choose, and not realizing that is a choice. So easy. Such a trap. I hurt myself, my family, my Father with these tactics. So, I get up in the morning and read the Word. I set aside time in the evening to pray and praise. I do my Bible study. I lean into Jesus. I worship. Simple choices that have a profound effect.
What does choosing Jesus first look like in my life? Is there something beyond Bible study and prayer? Am I choosing Him first by playing worship music on my commute instead of listening to an audiobook? Or are both acceptable? Am I choosing Jesus first when I eat healthy and go to the gym, but not when I eat a candy bar? Does He reign in my heart when I praise, but not when I’m fighting depression?
Good questions with no simple answers. No simple answers, but I’ll share some of what I’m learning in this time of doubt and change and struggle.
What Choosing Jesus First Looks Like for Me
Choosing Jesus means being faithful to my commitments – which is why I’m still commuting to a less-than-perfect-and-somewhat-stressful job more than an hour away. It also means being faithful to commitments I’ve made to myself. Commitments to exercise more, eat less, pray more, watch TV less, work on passion projects faithfully, while also bringing home a paycheck from my day job.
Choosing Jesus means engaging daily in worship and prayer, even when I don’t feel like it. You see, I’m a wallow-er – I wallow around in my feelings, letting all the downers, all the doubts, all the insecurities, all the confusion get the best of me. I cannot worship and pray based on my feelings. I must choose worship and prayer even when it’s the last thing I want to do. In fact, I must choose worship and prayer especially when I don’t want to.
Choosing Jesus means continuing daily to fight against my twin enemies: depression and weight. I fight the only way I know how – slow and steady, leaning on Jesus, drawing strength from the Word, and letting go of perfection.
Choosing Jesus means writing, even if nothing is good enough to publish! Writing even if no-one sees it but me. Writing as many days as possible – aiming for seven and embracing grace when I only reach two days.
Choosing Jesus is Bible study, devotional time, and reading books that strengthen my faith. But all that intake of goodness needs an outlet. I must also serve. Serve the children in my classes. Serve my husband whenever I can (he has the real servant’s heart in this family, so it isn’t always easy to find ways to serve him!). Serve by sharing the love and truth of Jesus whenever and wherever I can. Serve by lifting up lost souls in fervent prayer.
Choosing Jesus First: Your Challenge
What does choosing Jesus first look like in your life? Does it mean canceling Netflix, setting a time for social media, putting down the phone and playing with your children? Does it mean less sleep, but more prayer? Less cleaning and more worshiping? Less self-absorption and more outward-focused thoughts and deeds? Whatever it looks like for you, I encourage you to embrace the choice, the change, and the Savior. You’ll never regret it.