Friday, December 9, 2011

seek first

The Lord has been talking to me a lot the last few months about seeking His kingdom first. Anxiety about money, and kids, and school, and housework were overtaking my life and stealing my joy, and he whispered to me one day while I was journaling, "Seek first, sweetheart; seek first...remember?" 

"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Mt. 6:33
In the past, I've taken that verse and have viewed it as a task: "I need to read the bible more. Do more. Be more. Memorize  more."  It resulted in failed attempts and a heart disheartened. I've assumed that seeking His kingdom involved more doing...but I'm starting to think it involves more being. 
What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God? What is His kingdom made of, and how do I seek it? 
It’s a kingdom of Love. It’s an upside down kingdom, where the last is first, and the meek will inherit the earth, and blessed are the peacemakers. Where forgiveness reigns, and grace overflows, and it’s a kingdom of second chances, and third chances, and it’s all under the umbrella of a crazy, heart-overflowing love. A kingdom of peace, and joy, and no stress, and light hearts, and a slowness of living, and a focus on what really matters, and this is the way to joy and happiness and peace in your soul---to seek out this Kingdom. 
This is where Life is, and He showed us how, and when you wrap it up with a ribbon of gratitude, it's a gift to all who behold, but especially to yourself. It’s a kingdom of humility, and mercy, and patience, and kindness, and why do we buy into the lie that we have to live anything BUT this?! 
It’s seeking a Kingdom where Love rules, and mercy and grace are the currency, and we just trade them with each other, and our shortcomings fade away and all that remains is Love. There is no room for heated debate, for arguing about who is greater, but just room to love and be Loved. To learn to live life loved, isn’t that what He showed me 4 years ago

I'm not talking about a watered-down "everything goes, just love people, man" type of Christianity where there are no absolutes or standards. Truth is vital, and He's got a name, and it is the name above all names. I'm just saying I think there is a pipeline of crazy love-grace that we don't even know is available to us, and if we could just tap into it...maybe we could find the kingdom we seek? 
Crazy grace doesn’t mean no boundaries or not taking care of yourself, but it does mean that you pour out grace undeservedly, because that is what Love forgives when people don’t deserve it. To bless when they don’t deserve it, to honor when they are acting dishonorable. Because that’s what You do, Lord, you forgive and bless and honor, not because we’ve earned it, but because we’re loved. We’re yours, and we’re loved, and even the ones that don’t know you, they are LOVED, and You so loved them that you were born into a dirty stable, and lived a scorned life, and crawled up on a tree and died because You Loved, and You Made, and You chose to Forgive, and if we could understand this, we would see...that it’s not about living perfect, and never making mistakes. It’s not about false piety, and doing things right, and appearing all holy and proper. It’s about receiving and giving back a fierce, wild love to the One who Loved enough to be born, and live, and die, so that we might live, and not just forever, but that we would have life abundant here, that we would bring Your kingdom here, right now

So, I am learning to seek first. Learning what His kingdom looks like. It's a process, learning to love like Him. But His grace is abundant, and I am thankful. 
"For God so loved the world...that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but will have life everlasting...John 3:16" 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


A big name store has a new Christmas slogan: REAL JOY. GUARANTEED
As I read it, while strolling through the aisles of new appliances, I had to smile. Really? Can you put a guarantee on something like joy? Joy feels so fleeting. I experience moments of it, but the moments are quickly replaced with the mundane, mechanical numbness of life. 
I lost a great blog post a few weeks ago. Well, to me it was great. Last month, some bloggers with Compassion traveled to Ecuador, and as I read their daily blogs, something in me was changed, and moved. My heart expanded to the bursting point, and I poured it all out...and then lost it. It got erased, deleted, and I tried recovering it, but it was gone; which felt like a big deal to this non-writing girl. My heart was all right there, on the page, and I was so happy to have captured how I felt in words...and then, with an accidental click, it was gone, leaving me under a crushing pile of disappointment.  
Disappointment can steal our joy, and abbreviate our thanks. We are disappointed because our lives didn’t turn out the way we thought they would, or the friendship ended, or the kids are habitually fighting, and the marriage is harder than we thought it would be, and why don't things just go right for once?! 
But what if we took each disappointment as a challenge to give thanks? For what has been appointed to us? 
The blog post was deleted...thank You for making all things new. 
The baby is sick again, I can’t go to bible study...thank You that we have a home to snuggle down in, for healing.
The kids are fighting again...thank You for children, for siblings, for healing words, hugs, and laughter. 
The friendship is over...thank You for years of life-giving fellowship.
Life doesn’t always go the way we expect it to. But the act of giving thanks in all things leads us to a greater end---JOY. Gratitude equals joy, and joy equals contentment, and contentment leads us right back to gratitude, and if I could just capture this, this equation of laying down disappointments and inserting gratitude, I just might find what my soul aches for---lasting, real joy.