What are your top priorities? On most people’s list would be family and friends. You might also include your professional life and financial security. In my case, I’d probably list free time, which allows me to make myself available to others and undertake creative pursuits (such as writing this blog). The details differ from individual to individual, but we all want those things that make for the good life, in every sense.
As I seek to follow Jesus, however, even these good things cannot be my highest concern. There is a purpose to my life that goes deeper than enjoyment, security, or even the comforts of human affection and family ties. In Jesus, I meet a God who refuses to be set alongside other priorities. I cannot serve God and wealth; or family; or even happiness. I must serve God alone, and let all the other aspects of my life fall into place around that Holy Center.
It’s easy to lose sight of this. I have a tendency to center my life around whatever project seems most exciting or urgent at the moment. Whether it’s my job, home renovation, or an upcoming trip, I can get pretty fixated on the task at hand. I often lose myself in these activities. All these good things become ends in and of themselves, rather than an expression of obedience to my creator.
Ironically, when I become activity-focused rather than God-focused, the joy I experience in my various projects is greatly diminished. The more I place a project, goal or object in the center of my life, the more stressed out I tend to become. When I try to accomplish my own purposes using my own strength, I become exhausted and demoralized. My own efforts never quite bring fulfillment. There is always something else that needs done.
Life is different when my sole priority is to faithfully follow Jesus and live in obedience to God. My activities may be very similar, but my perspective has changed. Now, rather than running myself ragged with the insatiable need to achieve, I can rest in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. Instead of measuring my life by what I can accomplish, my life is accounted for in the unconditional love and faithfulness of God. This is the easy yoke Jesus offers.
How about you? What are the activities, goals, relationships and possessions that are most central to your life? Are they your top priority, or do you allow God to be the center and orderer of your days? When you get distracted and absorbed in tasks and goals, how do you find your way back to Jesus, to the path of peace and obedience that he shows us? How do you get your priorities straight?