*pictured is us on Easter Sunday 2019
As most of you know, Isaac and I moved to the boondocks of Oklahoma earlier this year to help run a wildlife ranch. We were going from working completely opposite work schedules to working completely together 24/7. It was a fantastic marriage move.
We were under the impression though when we started that it was the end of the client season and we wouldn’t have many more customers coming until fall (so Sundays off wouldn’t be a problem)…. but customers just kept coming. I know thats a weird thing to be bothered by because that meant more money for everyone, but DANG I needed community. Isaac and I had talked constantly since we’d been there about how to be particularly intentional about our worship every day and make sure that our boss knew that us going to church was a priority whenever possible.
I’m big on setting a list of priorities for everything so that the few moments of unfilled downtime we have we can use efficiently. I noticed that that word really got lodged in my head though. Priority.
Church is a priority. Church is a priority. Church is a priority.
When everything in life was dandy, our lack of church going didn’t seem that severe. I knew we were doing the best we could in the situation we were in and that God was teaching us a new lesson. When we would argue though or things wouldn’t go as planned, thats when I noticed how desperate we were for closeness with our Savior. It was all over our faces.
That time for us had been extremely eye opening. I had never understood people who didn’t go to church regularly before. Did they love Jesus or not? When you give the devil that wedge to get in though there are SO MANY excuses he can give you. Work, time, sleep, “not finding the right church” or disagreeing with decisions people in the church were making. I had heard so many of these over the years, but never understood why.
At that point we had been to SO MANY different churches in different states and cities of different sizes and worship styles. You know what I learned though? You can only be so critical when your heart is just set on worship. I cannot even tell you what the people in any of the Oklahoma churches we visited were wearing because each time we were actually able to go to one I was so RELIEVED. Relieved to finally be in the fellowship of other believers. Relieved to sit down and just worship Christ. As hard of a time as we were having figuring out what putting Christ first looked like in our lives in that moment, our hearts just craved worship.
Church was a priority for us no doubt. Everyone knew it too. The thing about priorities though is that I’ve noticed how often we give other people in our life the power to change them. Is it still a priority if my boss needs me to work? Is it still a priority if my friend points out how little sleep I’ve gotten this week and how grouchy I’ve been getting from it? Is it still a priority if my husband is unable to go and I don’t know another soul there?
If I classify going to church and worshiping my heavenly Father as the same level of priority as all of those other things though, what is that saying? Respect for our boss is important. Self care is important. But where do we draw the line and say “This will NOT interfere with my time of worship and my fellowship with other believers”?
Lying in my bed one rare morning off I agonized over why I could not succeed at making church a priority with our crazy and ever changing schedule. In one compassionate moment God made it so clear though. I had been obsessing over my desire for Him and forgetting my raw, human-natured NEED for Him. Priorities are something we put on a checklist and often things we just expect ourselves to be able to get done within our own capabilities. Flooded by work, exhaustion, moving, appointments, and responsibilities though, my earthly strength was finally proven to be not enough. Christ was a necessity. Not just a necessity though, our BIGGEST necessity. We would never be able to make the decisions we needed to make in our life without recognizing that fact.
Sure, some Sundays we’re sick. Some weeks we feel defeated. Sometimes the Devil gives us every excuse in the world to not stop and pray about it. I hold tight to verses like these though…
Matthew 16:24-27 - Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoeverloses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit aman if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.
He wants our whole hearts, our whole budget, and our whole schedule because He alone fills our whole need.