“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight.” Isaiah 5:20-21
When God gave me these scriptures at the start of 2020, I knew they were relevant in today’s society, I just had no idea how truly relevant they would end up being for this year. As we’ve watched our world and our society devolve into division, and strife, and at times, utter chaos, these words keep returning to my mind time and again.
But this isn’t just true on a large scale. These words are applicable in my own life on a very personal level. And the point at which I often find myself surprised, is that those things which can seem very good to us, even holy, can often cause pretty major damage in our lives if we’re not cautious . . . if we don’t let God guide us . . . and quite honestly, if we’re not willing to say “no” to certain things.
Evil – distress, misery, injury, calamity (from Strong’s 7451b – “ra”);
adveristy, calamity, disaster, evil, harm, harmful, hurt, ruin, surely, trouble, unpleasant, wickedly, wickedness (from the NAS Exhaustive Concordance/NASB Translation – same as “roa”)
Have you ever set out to do something . . . maybe something really good . . . maybe even something “holy”, as I said above . . . only to find yourself striving . . . only to find yourself struggling . . . only to find yourself trying to get through it in your own power because it’s not really something to which you should be giving yourself at that moment?
We all have a calling.
At the most basic level, my calling is always to serve Jesus and minister to those around me.
But how that looks for me has evolved and changed over time. And I’m sure it will continue to change as my life changes.
This year, in the midst of COVID and quarantines, and being forced to slow down, God has been teaching me so much about priorities.
- God – Not church – Not ministry – Just God . . . fellowship with Him. A relationship with Him. Prayer and study and worship and seeking Him for guidance in both the big and the little things.
- My Marriage – before my kids . . . I know some of y’all flip out about that, but putting your marriage before your kids ensures a much healthier view of marriage for them in the long run . . . before anything else but God.
- My kids and our family as a unit – while I used to think that meant being at every meeting, every party, always volunteering . . . God has been showing me that, in this season of life, it’s about creating a home and an environment that is safe and nurturing for them.
- Everything else – church, volunteering at school, writing, all the extras . . .
Priorities are why we’ve decided . . . and this is a personal decision that God has placed on my heart . . . that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone so do NOT read into this . . . that for now, I will not work and beyond that, I will limit my volunteer activities. Since Anna has come home, and we’ve learned to adjust to life with a precious and amazing child with some unique and different needs, my job and my calling is literally my family and by extension creating a home where they want to be. Not perfect . . . perfection is an illusion . . .but warm, nurturing, calm, and safe. And on most days, my biggest focus is doing all the things that need to be done, during the day, while the kids are at school and Patrick is at work so that we can guard our family time in the evenings. That’s not to say every night is family night, or we never have other things going on. Anna also goes to bed very early most nights (she leaves for school by 7:00 each morning), and that doesn’t leave a ton of room for “quality time” after school each day. But God has taught me to guard family time because these days are only for a season. There is something very sacred about these days and nights as a family, and it’s so important to me to cherish things like dinner together (most nights) and playing board games. Because honestly, as my kids grow up, I know this will change. I know these evenings at home will become less and less as their schedules become busier. I know one day, in the not so distant future, I’m going to launch my oldest out into the world.
And what God has compelled me to do and convicted me of in this season, and in my life going forward, is to remember to keep my priorities in order. To remember that I have to keep “first things first”, and I have to do what is best for my relationship with Him, my marriage, and my kids before anything else.
That means saying “no” more than I like sometimes . . . no to certain events, no to certain meetings, no to certain volunteering opportunities, no to certain extras, no to working . . . even when it seems like it could be a very good thing our “no” answers make room for the things God wants us to say “yes” to . . . yes to collecting donations and packing shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse . . . yes to heading up Orphan + Stand Sunday at church . . . yes to doing virtual read alouds for Anna’s class . . . yes to helping with certain parties and fundraisers for Andrew’s class . . . yes to, in the very near future, returning to teaching Sunday School . . . and yes, to other things that God is working on in my heart . . . but what I’ve learned is before I jump up and say “yes”, I need to stop and pray. I need to make sure that what seems like a very good thing, isn’t going to do more harm, either short or long term, than good for my family.
And not everyone will always understand that. In Priscilla Shirer’s devotional book Awaken, there’s a quote that says, “Yes, even Jesus – who (unlike us) could do everything – didn’t do everything. He only did the things assigned to Him. The divinely delegated things that were His to complete.”* What I’ve realized is before I’m called out into the world (to church, to the schools, to whatever it is demanding my time and attention), my most important calling, my divine delegation, if you will, is to my husband and children, and that’s no small thing. I do not take that lightly.
You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.C.S. Lewis
* Awaken, Priscilla Shirer, Day 30 – One-Track Mind
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