Person walking alone in the desert

Returning to Base

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I love focusing on the big picture. There’s something invigorating for me about being able to zoom out and see how different variables or actions connect to each other. I love seeing connections, correlations, and causations. I can also usually spot with ease when an idea won’t work well. Like when someone wants to get a second job to help with their cash flow problem when they should focus on creating and sticking to a budget first. Or when someone offers diet pills as a solution before thinking about changing their diet.

Lately, it’s been bothering me how often I see people with their priorities in the wrong order. Until the Lord called me out on my own priority problems.

“You’ve been focusing on the wrong things.”

Ouch.

Okay, Lord, I hear you.

I had, once again, found myself doing things for God instead of spending time with God. It’s amazing when you realize the things you’ve been doing “for” God you’ve been doing without him. That’s never a good revelation to come to. And yet, that’s exactly where I found myself recently.

I had gotten distracted: this blog, writing a devotional, working on a novel, building a business, writing for a non-profit, volunteering at church, and maintaining somewhat of a social life. A good 80% of my schedule (depending on the week) revolves around pointing people to Jesus or encouraging people to fully pursue God and yet, I wasn’t focusing on him. I was more focused on my task list than our relationship.

God never lets me stray too far away, his kindness always draws me back.

It was as if I had set off on a long journey by myself, ill-prepared for the heat and the elements. It started off fine, I was on my mission, I had my task list, and it wasn’t too uncomfortable. But then things became less than ideal, my feet started to hurt in my shoes, I was sweating like crazy and had already emptied my water bottle, and was being attacked by whatever bugs had come along. Things weren’t pleasant but I got used to my situation because “I’m fine” and “I can handle it”. Then God got my attention.

He sent out a smoke signal and sent me a carrier pigeon and any number of other forms of communication until I finally got the hint. I looked around me and realized I was in the wrong spot, so I prepared myself to start the trek back to base camp again. It would be a grueling walk, but I could do it, I knew where I had to go.

But when I turned, he was there. He didn’t have wait until I got back to shelter and supplies and relationship, he pursued me into the middle of my self-inflicted desert. He didn’t meet me with a judgmental tone, wagging a finger in my face, he spoke kindly to me and walked me back to where I belonged all along: his presence. He took my hand and substituted truth for lies and reminded me of who he is and who I am.

If you’ve wandered at all, I encourage you to turn around today. No matter if you’re 12 steps, 2 yards, or 30 miles down the road, make a decision, change your mind, and point your feet in a different direction. Take the baby step of changing your course and your intention today.

You might need to listen to a sermon instead of your favorite music on the way home. You might have to delete an app from your phone or throw something away. You might have to decide in your heart that today you’re going to spend 5 minutes in silence seeking his face. Whatever your decision is, however you decided to change course I applaud you. You can do it!

How are your priorities? Does anything need to change?

Have you ever fallen into the habit of doing things for God without God?

To go Deeper: Read Priorities, Seeing Through The Fog 

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6 comments

  1. Oof. Great question and important thoughts. Focusing more on the task list than on the relationship hits home.
    I mean, if many will say “Here’s all the things I did for You” and still hear, “I never knew you,” then clearly this is a huge danger. I don’t say that to stoke fear or condemn, but because I know how often I think “I’ve got this” because I’m doing something for God that it feels like I can do without worrying about ‘distractions’ like prayer or coordination with others or investing time and practice to refine the effort… but is that for God, or for me to feel like I’m checking the box of “I did God stuff” so I can get back to the rest of my routine or interests?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a sobering thought and so imiportant for us to stop and examine our thoughts and motivations regularly. It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine instead of actually living a life of worship.

      Like

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