But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. – Jude 20-21 (ESV)
Advent has begun. (I think it actually started yesterday, but…) And, seeing that advent is a time of seeking Jesus with anticipation and joy, it seems to me the perfect opportunity for a spiritual road trip. A time of adventure in seeking the Lord. A time to set aside preconceived notions about God, and see just what His Word has to say.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33a, ESV). I quote that verse often. It is the jumping off point for any journey to seek the Lord. To put the verse in its proper scriptural context, Jesus is saying we need to put the Lord before all – including seeking our own material needs. Not just comforts. Not merely wants.
And that’s tough to do. I’m not so sure that most of us in the western world can truly appreciate what that means. In fact, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite even bringing up the subject, sitting here in my comfortable warm home with a full belly, surrounded by more than enough comforts, and feeling secure (perhaps falsely) in my life.
I think of people I know who felt secure in their lives, only to have life upend it all – job loss, divorce, illness, the loss of a loved-one, unexpected tragedy… I think of these people, and the ones who survived with their faith intact were the ones who sought Jesus above the pain, above the loss, above the circumstances.
Seeking God first isn’t just a matter of praying about something I want. Seeking God means I need to be intentional about putting His Word into action in my life. It is about being faithful every moment of my life. It is not about religious obedience – acts I feel compelled to perform – but about heart change, realizing Psalm 37:4 in my life:
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart (ESV).
When I find my joy, contentment and peace in the Lord, it is because He has changed my heart, given me the right desires. This happens when I diligently, faithfully seek Him first in all things. This is what loving God is. When I put Him before all else, I find Him in all things.
It isn’t necessarily easy. There is more than enough distraction in my life to turn my head away from God. But I must seek the Lord and His righteousness first and earnestly. And each day begin anew.