Priorities, priorities. I don’t always have mine in order. Once the construction of our new covered porch was complete, all obligations and responsibilities went out the window. I had spent weeks thrift store shopping for unique treasures to hang and cozy furniture to arrange. The hammering was over, the tools put away, the debris was cleared, and the workers were gone. My time had come. While I needed to be preparing for a presentation I was to give at an out of town lady’s luncheon and packing for the overnight stay, all I could think about was organizing and decorating my highly anticipated, gorgeous new porch.
My husband repeatedly warned, “Baby, you can organize and decorate when you get back, but you need to be concentrating on your presentation and packing.” Each time, I shrugged off his words of wisdom. My porch, my porch, my porch. Like a dog with a bone.
The consequence for my lack of prioritizing was not revealed until the next morning in the hotel room, one hour before I was to arrive at the event center to speak. As a result of hurried packing, I had forgotten my pants. I had the dressy top, the right shoes, but no pants. Standing over my suitcase in the casual shorts I had traveled in the night before with my toothbrush sticking out of my mouth, my face went pale and my heart rate went into double time as I frantically searched through the contents. “Shelia!” I desperately whined around my toothbrush, “I forgot to pack my pants!” My travel companion and friend bolted out of the bathroom, “You forgot what?”
Fifteen minutes before I was to arrive, we found ourselves racing through Ross looking for pants. No luck. It was time to face the music, time to pay the piper, time to come to terms. I had no choice. I was going to speak in casual shorts at a lady’s luncheon. A white tablecloth lady’s luncheon.
Trying to bring a little lightheartedness to the situation, Sheila offered, “If it makes you feel any better, G, I forgot my hairspray.” I quickly cut my eyes at her, “Don’t even.” The new motto of our friendship—at least you have pants.
A Christian’s top priority should be spending time with God. No matter how many distractions surround us, how many people are vying for our attention, or how many goals we’ve set for the day, nothing is more important than fellowshipping with God. It is communion with God that prepares us to meet daily demands and opportunities with the mindset of Christ. No one had more demands than Jesus, but before he went about his day, he sought the presence of his Father in heaven. Jesus knew the importance of spending time with the Father, so he modeled that priority for us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
When we make time with God a priority, he enables us to view the tasks of the day, whether urgent or mundane, through the lens of the gospel. Our thoughts become more like his, which prepares and propels us to respond to the issues of life productively, effectively, and with gospel advancing purpose.
If day to day life has us bogged down, stressed out, and uptight, it can be a sign that priorities need adjusting. Jesus said when we seek him first, everything else will fall into place, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). How do we make time with God a priority? We make it a habit. Just as we schedule any appointment, we schedule time alone with God.
Not only does the priority of spending time reading God’s Word and talking with him through prayer please him immensely, but it also keeps us more in tune with his active involvement in our lives, which causes us to live in a more peaceful, secure state. We become more confident that all things, even the bad things, work together for our good and his purpose (Romans 8:28). Through this confident faith, he empowers us to live in thankfulness to him regardless of circumstances.
I am living proof of the power of practicing his presence. On the days I fail to make time with God a priority, I tend to go down rabbit holes of negativity, refusing to see his good work in all things. On the days I do make time with God a priority, I find myself living in a state of thankfulness even in the midst of bad situations. When everything is going wrong, nothing is going my way, and I’m ready to throw in the towel, I can look to the heavens and, if for no other reason, say with gratitude, “Thank you, Jesus, at least I have pants.”