How do you keep first things first? In your devotions, do your thoughts and the day’s list of to-do’s intrude? How do you keep your mind from wandering? In today’s post, I share how I keep first things first when that to-do list tries to distract me from my time in God’s presence.
The day was wide open before me. I had a long list of things I hoped to accomplish on my one day off and was excited with anticipation of all I could get done.
I allowed myself the luxury of pressing the “snooze” button on my alarm a couple of times that morning since the tasks to get done that day were not scheduled at specific times. Still, I somehow felt like I “ran behind.”
Do you ever feel that way?
Showered and dressed, bed made, I sat legs-crossed in my sitting area over-stuffed chair ready for my time with the Lord. My Bible fallen open on my lap, I turned to the passage for the day’s reading. But first, I opened in prayer.
When your mind wanders during quiet time
As I laid my heart before the Lord, the unwritten agenda for the day intruded. Blog post ideas, writing commitment deadlines, emails to return, phone calls to make, appointments to schedule, laundry to wash, groceries to be bought, prescriptions to pick up, thank you notes to write all crashed in on the solitude and serenity of my so-called “Quiet Time” with the Lord. As hard as I tried, my mind kept wandering to the never-ending list of tasks screaming for my attention.
It reminded me of one of my favorite stories:
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42)
I love the story of Mary and Martha because I can relate to both within a single day, and in the situation I relayed above, even within the same moment. I have a Mary heart and long to sit at the feet of Jesus talking with Him and learning about the things of the kingdom. Yet simultaneously, I possess a built-in Martha personality, wired to do and to accomplish and to make things happen. Both characteristics struggle for equal expression.
I love how scripture relays that Martha was doing what she “had to do.” It communicates that Martha wasn’t wrong for doing those things, but rather it was her stressing and worrying that got her in trouble with Jesus. Good for me to remember and to keep that in perspective!
Limiting distractions to keep first things first
In my alone times when I desire my first and foremost focus to be on God, I find it helpful to have a notepad by my side to limit becoming distracted by the stresses of the things that need to get done that serve as a distraction from my intimacy with God. When the enemy can’t destroy you, he’ll do whatever he can to distract you.
It was certainly working that morning.
I also find repentance and thanksgiving to be very helpful as well: repentance for allowing the tasks of the day to interrupt my devotion to God, and thanksgiving that God gives me so many things to be involved in. It sort of defuses the enemy’s fire.
I love that God provided a place for both Mary and Martha, just no place for stress and worry. I can be productive and task-oriented, but I must establish my priorities, and my first thing needs to stay first: spending time in His presence. I am quite grateful that He desires that from me. It’s a gift–not a reprimand.
Because of Him, #PeacePrevails!
Even in times of crisis, every day can be a good day when you trust the promises of God.
Today is Going to be a Good Day
My newest book, Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises from God to Start Your Day Off Right is now available!
This uplifting devotional helps you make each day a good day no matter what is going on in your life.
When life conspires to drag us down with all of its troubles, it can be hard to keep our spirits up. In times of severe illness and depression, I learned that when I stand on God’s promises, despite my circumstances, every day can be a good day.
Each reading includes Scripture, reflection, prayer, and a recommended playlist song designed to help you live out Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
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