First Things First

I recently remembered something important. I remembered that when my kids were infants and my world in all practical ways revolved around them and their care, I made a promise to myself and to God: I will read the Bible every day. I will seek the Lord.


I was a follower of Jesus for nearly two decades when I had kids, but I realize I had never allowed God’s word to really impact my life. After having my kids I began to question how I lived, lukewarm and making excuses between Bible studies and Sunday sermons. Who was I kidding? Certainly not God. Having kids was what it took for me to finally realize, two decades in, that God’s intent is that my life be fully surrendered to Him in every possibly way. If I wanted to see Him evident in my life—in my babies’ lives—then I needed to seek Him, earnestly.


So I began to seek God on a daily basis. Hebrews 4:12 states that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I figured that if God’s word was alive and active, it could change me even if I could only give it a little bit of myself each day. Whether it was a verse or a chapter, two minutes or twenty, I prioritized reading God's word. I was fully immersed in taking care of babies. I was physically exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed, and logistically challenged every single day. I doubt anyone would have questioned my intentions if I’d claimed to be too busy, too tired, or too overwhelmed to do my Bible reading. 


But I knew better because I knew the truth—that only God was fully equipped to guide me through that intense time. Only He fully knew my struggles, fully understood my heart, and was fully aware of the best way to navigate through it all. Only He. I knew that I had to align myself with Him if I was to make my way without losing myself, losing my marriage, resenting my babies, or succumbing to despair along they way. I had to seek Him first.


Jesus taught we should “seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33) and our practical needs will be met as well. Jesus taught that the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Why would Jesus teach these things if not to encourage his followers to actually do them? How can we expect to parent well if we are not connected to the well of living water that pours forth and pours forth and never runs dry?


It took me many many years to take God at his word and begin to seek Him like scripture encourages us to. But when I started to do it—when I dared to believe that I wasn’t too busy to seek Him, but too busy not to—the effects were profound. We had no income but we never lacked for food, housing, or necessities. I didn't sleep a full night for eight months and yet I never lacked energy to nurture our babies. We had no family nearby to help yet we never lacked for volunteers when we needed a babysitter or help getting the babies to a doctor appointment. And more miraculous than anything, there was joy through it all. Joy through the exhaustion, joy through the financial strain, joy through the uncertainty of job searching, joy in the gift of our children.


I sought the Lord and He sustained me, He sustained my family, and we thrived. 


You want to be an excellent parent? You want your marriage to thrive? Your want your children to flourish? Seek first His kingdom. Seek Him first. There’s no substitute. You can focus on circumstances, behavior, parenting methods, or prevailing philosophies. You can read to your littles and put them in the best schools and expose them to the outdoors and museums and practice wise boundaries with media exposure. You can do a lot of beneficial things without seeking Him. But nothing compares to putting first things first. When we put first things first we allow God to put all other things in order. The God who created the order of the universe, who brings the sun up each morning and tells the sea where to stop, will order your life as well.


I’ve seen it work in my own parenting. Will you try it in yours?