Welcome to the 4th Quarter of 2017! I don’t know about you, but I have spent a good portion of this year being shocked by its pace. At the beginning of each month, I have found myself stating, “Is it [insert month] already?!” Only to discover the same definitive answer each time, “Yes it is“! I can’t count the number of conversations I have had with loved ones, friends, coworkers, and others in passing, who have not only confirmed by sentiments about the pace of this year, but who have also shared in my anxiety laced fear that, THERE’S JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME!!!!!.
But, What if I told you that there IS enough time? Will you accept that? What if I told you that the culprit of your anxiety is something you and I have full control over? Will you, for the sake of this discussion, entertain the notion that the deficit has not been in seconds, minutes, hours, and days, but instead, that the true deficit, has been in your FOCUS? Does that encourage or discourage you?
I spent the first half of this year consumed by what I believed was a time deficit. I felt like I was running and running, desperately trying to keep up, only to come up short month after month. On the first day of each month, I would scold myself for what I had not accomplished the month prior, and then try to encourage myself into believing the present month would be better. I’d write down my goals, and from day 2 of the present month until its end, I’d busy myself with checking items off of my “list.” As the month plowed forward, my list would seem more and more unattainable, and the present month ended, not much better than the previous month, and I was thrown back into the same cycle.
As the end of June approached, I was exhausted. I was discouraged. I was weighed down mentally, physically, and emotionally. I wanted out of this cycle! Yet, I did not know what the alternative was. By this time, like a stalled car, I was broken down on the side of the road of my life. I couldn’t figure out how I had gotten there. There were uplifting messages all around me. With accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, there was no shortage of encouraging quotes, motivational memes, and powerful testimonies saturating each of my newsfeeds. Yet, there I was broken down, DISCOURAGED of all things, and quite frankly, out of gas!! I had some decisions to make. I had to figure out WHAT I really wanted, WHO I was really trying to please, and I had to get real about WHY I was in pursuit of the things that I kept chasing.
Have you ever literally been alone in a car that was broken down on the side of the road? I have, and one thing you can do while you wait for help is think. The same is true when you are figuratively broken down on the side of the roads of life. As I sat there not truly knowing what would happen next, I identified my biggest problem, I did not have my priority in the right place. Notice I did not use the plural form of the word priority (priorities).
Priority is defined as “The right to take precedence over.”
What I’ve learned over the past 3 months is that I could have many things of IMPORTANCE in my life, but my PRIORITY had to become, that which is SUPREME in my life, making my priority Supreme also meant I had to make it SINGULAR!
Making it singular meant it had to be constant, consistent, and unchanging. So everything that was subject to change, had to come off the list of options. As I crossed one option off after the other, I realized why, as a people, we insist on having more than one of these; it is extremely difficult to pick just 1. But until I ditched the option of making Priority plural, I could not get down to the MAIN THING, and I decided I could no longer afford myself the luxury of having more than 1 “main thing.” As I continued to get my list narrowed down, I decided that my priority had to have one last characteristic. It had to be some thing that if I fully devoted my attention to it, nothing else of “Importance” would lack. Which meant, my focus on this one thing would make everyOne and everyThing attached to me better. So there broken down on the side of the road of my life, I decided that only one thing met the criteria I had established, and that was God!
Let me tell you, it is not easy for a person who has considered themselves a devout follower of Christ for 20+ years to accept and admit that God had not been my “main thing”. Don’t get me wrong, in theory, He ALWAYS has been, but in reality, I had a list of main things, and even though I always listed Him as number 1, the reality was, He was a competing priority with everything else on that list! Not only that, but because He is the most patient, loving, gracious and compassionate One on the list, He was getting passed over again and again! He was getting the drive-by conversations. The last few minutes of an overloaded day, as I dosed off to sleep, struggling through a devotional on my phone or mumbling a few words of prayer. And some days, all He got was a song or two that I mindlessly sang along with my favorite Christian artists on the ride to work. These scraps of moments just did not reflect the deeply devoted relationship I imagined I had with God, and that is how I ended up broken down on the side of the road of my life! I was not being punished, I was being jolted awake to what mattered MOST! I could hear my Lord beckoning me to Himself saying,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
With tears flooding my face, I willingly accepted the invitation. I left each item that had made my monthly to-do list, right where it was, undone, and I ran undignified into the arms of my Lord. I CHOSE JESUS! I surrendered my plans, ALLOF THEM! Everything that I had been so desperately “working” on, lost its value, when measured next to KNOWING and being KNOWN by my Lord! I did not know if I would speak, teach, write, or lead anyone or anything again. All I knew was that I was no longer willing to navigate through life with a mere fragment of the relationship I was made to have with Him.
Rest. I have received rest. This urgent, anxious, busy, and fearful spirit that is plaguing our nation and world, is constantly denying us the privilege of resting in the Presence, Power, Promises, and Certainty of God. Resting in Him means, I trust Him. I trust His goodness, I trust His promises, and most importantly, I trust His timing! As I have made God my SOLE priority, I have accomplished more. As I have committed to consistently consulting Him, and more importantly LISTENING to Him, I have received clarity, and I now know what obligations I need to accommodate because they are progressive in nature, and which ones I must deny because they only keep me busy – distracted, stagnant, and outside of God’s Will.
So what about you? As we embark on the final quarter of this year, do you have your Priority straight? Are you focused on the right thing, or are you focused on EVERYTHING? Do you need to put your list aside, and R.S.V.P to Jesus’ invitation to give you rest, so that you can receive clarity? Do you need to be released from the bondage of performance in favor of drawing closer to the Lord, allowing Him to speak to you, and being obedient to His instructions, while denying the opinions of the people around you?
I want to encourage you to do what you need to do in order to establish and commit to your “Main Thing.” Time is not your enemy, that is not where your deficiency lies. And my friend, as long as you think it’s a matter of time, you’ll continually be a victim to it! I know because that was me, and I was comfortable with blaming my lack of progression in my Purpose on a lack of time! Yet, we are not meant to be victims! We are ROYALTY (2 Peter 2:9)! If you are not where you desire to be as you read this, like me, you first have to take responsibility for your focus because that is where your deficiency lies!
Our culture is obsessed with being entertained, and we now have easy access to EVERYTHING. This is why distraction is our enemy’s greatest weapon against us. While he cannot cancel God’s Purpose over our lives, he can delay it by distracting us and keeping us busy. Our only way to freedom is constantly being where God is! The Bible declares, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM!” (2 Corinthians 3:17). There is “rest for your weary soul!” The soul is comprised of the will, mind, and emotions. If your soul is weary, the Peace of God is your portion (John 14:27) , but this Peace can’t be understood, it has to be received and experienced, and experiencing it requires quieting yourself in the Presence of our Heavenly Father!
Perhaps you need to start your journey toward establishing WHAT you really want. WHO you are really trying to please, and WHY you are in pursuit of the things that keep you busy chasing. I think answering these questions is a good place to start! Your answers to these 3 will help you identify where your focus may be misdirected, and these answers will also help you make a distinction between what should be a Priority, and those things that are of Importance!
I hope you will join me in this exercise!
I would like to invite you to check out 2 blogs I wrote on the Gift of Peace last month:
I wish you an amazing, God- Led, and progressive final quarter of this year! I am praying God’s best in your life, which includes you taking back your focus!
I would love to hear your thoughts, please comment below , or Email Me!
Until Next Time, Keep Your Hope Living!