first.

i heard this song while i was listening to iTunes radio a few weeks ago, and bought it instantly.  you know how sometimes in life there is a song just waiting to be the one running through your veins for a season?  i found mine for this season.   it’s called “if i have you”, by the vertical church band…here are the lyrics.

i don’t need the riches of this world

i can’t even take them where i’m going.

i don’t need a thousand empty words.

i just need the ones that you have spoken.

if i have you, and nothing else, i have everything

if i have you and nothing else

if i have you and nothing else, i have everything

if i have you and nothing else

i don’t need to see tomorrow’s plans

i just need to trust that you are working

i don’t even need to understand

i just need to keep you as the first thing.

i just need to keep you as the first thing… those words are equally convicting and promising.  they fall heavy on my heart because the word FIRST is so black and white, so certain, so all or nothing, that i can’t help but let it hover in my thoughts for a while.  for sure i’ve made Jesus a priority. i grew up a good baptist girl, learned all the hymns, went to church, tried to study the Bible and understand what i could.  i graduated from an evangelical christian college, taught in south los angeles, served meals on thanksgiving down on skid row, worked with a youth group, discipled a group of high school girls, later married a great guy who loves God and we both serve in our church and love global missions work.  certainly i’ve made Jesus a priority…right?

sitting alone and quiet with Him.  it’s the only thing that truly puts Him first in my life.  because in sitting alone with Jesus, there are no other things that can pose as the substitute.  in doing ministry, in serving, even in studying the Word of God i can easily miss the point.  there are all sorts of reasons we do these other things that might be about God, or done on behalf of Him, or maybe even are done for other people or for ourselves.  serving because it makes us feel helpful and gives us purpose is not wrong, but without Jesus as the first thing it is still misguided and dangerous because it can easily snowball us to a place that is full of us and devoid of Him.  even with good intentions, we can easily forget that He is alive, moving, working all things together for the good of those who love Him.  it’s HIS plan, not ours.  it’s HIS ministry, not ours.  sitting with Jesus as the true and living God, in the quiet of the morning or the midnight hours when everyone else is asleep, is how i can keep Him first, because then not even reading about Him or doing things for Him can get in the way of the person of Jesus. and in these quiet times with Him, my assumptions, ideas, and motives are challenged and He has room to speak into the emptiness that fills me when i eliminate the things that fill my head each day:  my iPhone, my to do lists, the chores on my mind and even the worries and stresses of my loved ones.

it’s not easy, because i am an impatient person, and it’s hard to sit in silence most of the time.  but i have to trust that when i give up everything for a few minutes, even a moment full of the presence of Jesus, unadulterated by the stuff i fill my life with daily, is more freeing and more filling than anything else.  in the silence i can’t deny that i either believe i’m sitting in the presence of God, or i don’t.  He’s either a real living God who hears me, or an idea, a construct i’ve used to make my life worth something.

 if i have you, and nothing else, i have everything… 

but yet when i have everything i need, how can i truly understand this?

i can’t possibly understand, because i’ve never only had Jesus.  i’ve only had Jesus along with everything else.  so to sit with Him, without my laptop and study guides and buzzing text messages on my phone, without amazing inspirational books and great teachers and trusted prayer partners, without the constant flow of just about everything I surround myself with, is a way for me to have a time with just Jesus.  the only way i can put Him first is by removing everything else so that my time with Him doesn’t succumb to my multitasking.

and then when He speaks, it feels like the spring rain after a drought.  His words flow across my soul like the tradewinds do as they invite the palm trees to dance like giant ballerinas, the movement of the invisible that is felt before it is seen, and then only seen by what it moves.  when hardened things of my heart need to be gently coaxed away, His words come alive when i sit with Him and allow them to loosen my grip on my own ideas and convictions.     and then i am free, unchained from the things i thought i had to do, and all the world telling me to do this and do that and eat this and drink that and buy this and want that.

with open hands, we wait on the true and living God, to give us what we need in the silence of our offices before coworkers arrive, in the car parked early to pick up kids with sleeping babies in the backseat, in the dim lamplight of our reading nooks where we can steal away a few precious moments before children ask us for pancakes and help finding legos.  we read the divinely perfect Word of God and we let Him give us insight.  we can take a minute to marvel in the fresh ocean breeze or the thundering rain that falls from heaven without a hint of warning.  we wait for answers, for patience, for the strength to make it one more day when our wills are tested by impossible circumstances, and then we rejoice when answers come, when we find ourselves answering the same question for the 500th time without irritation and when we can offer grace to a colleague that has broken our trust time and time again.  we rejoice in these little victories because they show us that though we can’t do it alone, God can enlarge our capacity for love.  He can give us wisdom beyond our years.  He can bring us to a point where we can forgive and where healing begins.

this was the verse of the day today from my bible app.  i think God planned this a long time ago 🙂

now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.  acts 4:13

go be with Jesus.  be filled and reminded of His great love for you!

first.

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