Priorities are a popular topic these days.
What will we spend our time on? Who will we spend it with? What do we value enough to make time for in the first place?
With all the things expected of us, most of us don’t even have enough time for everything we need to do. Much less for activities and relationships that aren’t deemed crucial.
But what’s crucial to one person may be of little importance to another. To some extent, we all need to decide for ourselves what our priorities are.
What’s most important to you?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot so far in 2021. This is one of my busiest summers ever, and with each passing week, I’ve realized that I just won’t be able to get to everything I thought I would before autumn.
Of course I’ll do everything possible to keep promises to others and honor commitments I made earlier in the year, but when it comes to any of the personal goals . . . some things have been and need to keep getting pushed back for a while.
More than ever, I’ve had to really examine the things I’m agreeing to and what I spend my time on. Is the opportunity something I can honestly give my very best to right now? Is it something I’m only doing because I feel pressured or obligated? Will it be beneficial to others, and is it something God means for me to do?
The answers are hard to find. And unfortunately, as I’ve searched for them, one of the things that’s often gotten pushed back is my quiet time with God.
If I’m honest with myself, I know that’s the worst thing I could possibly put off. And yet, when the to-do lists are long and my schedule is packed, it’s far too easy for me to think, “I’ll get to my Bible study later,” or “I’ll take time to pray after I catch up on some things.”.
But usually, by the time I get those other tasks done, I’m exhausted, the day’s spent, and I either forget to spend time with God, or excuse myself by figuring God wouldn’t want to spend time with me when I’m so out of it. Better to just wait until tomorrow.
And the cycle repeats.
I heard a quote the other day that really struck me: “Jesus is the Bread of Life. If you’re starving, maybe it’s because you’re only eating once a week.”
How often are you ‘eating’ from the Bread of Life? How much time do you set aside to read God’s Word and study it? How many days have you spent time in prayer?
I’ve experienced the incredible difference that spending regular time with God first makes. Last year (2020), I determined to do my Bible study and have quiet prayer right away in the morning, before anything else. Every morning I stuck to it, filling notebooks with Scripture verses and what I was learning about them, sitting and pouring out my heart to God, and then taking time to be still and listen.
And those months were some of the most productive, peaceful, and powerful moments of my life so far. Not that the world around me changed to make that happen. Far from it – in the midst of the 2020 craziness, those same months were full of cancellations and drastic changes (my graduation ceremony, my senior play, outings with friends and family…). And even with the cancellations, life didn’t slow down. If anything it grew busier.
But through it all, I continued to feel God’s closeness, and was often surprised by my own reactions to difficult news. Usual me would have sulked or grown upset. But this me actually, somehow, took it in stride. I found myself at peace and feeling assured that everything would be okay. God was (and still is!) in control, and no matter how hard things were, He was ultimately going to work things out for good. Romans 8:281 became my special motto for the year.
Looking back, having allowed myself to drift from that consistency, I long to feel that kind of closeness again. And I realize that the only thing keeping me from it is myself. God’s never changed. He’s never left. His love for me is constant, and He’s still waiting for me to come near, so I can recognize how He’s continually showing it.
I’m not going to keep Him waiting any longer.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been extra intentional about spending time with God first. Before writing, before breakfast, before work – before any of the other obligations in my day. And throughout the day, I’m reminding myself to put God first in the things I do. When I write or work or interact with others, it should always be with the intention to glorify God.
I’m far from perfect. But I’m being intentional about it again, and already noticing the differences. When I choose God first, it doesn’t mean that my circumstances are any smoother. But it means I feel equipped to handle them well, because I’m not relying on my own strength or wisdom or patience (which is not much to speak of). I’m drawing on God’s.
And when I’m tempted to procrastinate my time with God, I’m reminding myself that a few hundred more words written or a couple more things off my to-do list are not worth forgoing His peace. God will help me get to what He means for me to get to, and I only need to continue listening for His directions. Everything else is just not as important.
It helps to be reminded all over again of those truths, especially when I’m extra busy. Of course praying helps, and so does talking with and reading the encouragements of wise Christians. So today, I thought I’d share ten of my favorite quotes about putting God first in life, with the prayer that they help you as much as they help me.
1. “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”
2. “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.”
(Ezra Taft Benson)
3. “When I put God first, God takes care of me and energizes me to do what really needs to be done.”
(Dr. David Jeremiah)
4. “The road that leads to Heaven is risky, lonely, and costly in this world, and few are willing to pay the price. Following Jesus involves losing your life – and finding new life in him.”
5. “Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God.”
6. “When we come to Christ, we’re no longer the most important person in the world to us; Christ is. Instead of living only for ourselves, we have a higher goal: to live for Jesus.”
7. “You’ll never come second by putting God first.”
8. “Jesus taught that your highest priority must be your relationship with Him. If anything detracts you from that relationship, that activity is not from God. God will not ask you to do something that hinders your relationship with Christ.”
9. “Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.”
10. “Remember: In the end, you’re not living to impress your friends or your relatives or your coworkers. All of life is for Jesus.”
There’s no doubt about it, putting someone other than ourselves first – our goals, our dreams, our wants – can be hard. But God blesses our commitment to Him. He draws near to us, and we can have the assurance that He’s always there, ready to help us with His strength, peace, and love. We only need to continue coming to Him. Getting to know our Savior better is something we will never regret.
Did any of these quotes speak to you today? Go ahead and let me know your favorites in the comments, as well as if there is a certain topic you’d like to see more quotes about. While you’re there, I’d love to hear something YOU’RE learning about putting God first!
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or
‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.”
(Matthew 6:31-33 NIV)
1. Romans 8:28 NIV – ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’
2. I shared more of my quote collection in many previous posts, which you can find here.
3. To receive your own printable pages of the above quotes (and the ones used in my other ‘Quotes’ posts), sign up for my email list! Simply fill in the form here, and I’ll send you PDF copies of the quote collections – as well as an inspirational short story. I look forward to hearing from you!