Choosing new priorities

I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things after our vacation. Both my husband and I feel like part of our hearts were left up there on those glaciers: something about the stillness and the vastness of it all just makes the experience hard to shake off. You realize how insignificant your problems really are, and how trivial most of your to-do list really is. 

Alaska must be the polar opposite of New York City, where time is money and everything feels urgent and terribly, terribly important. New York is often considered the center of the free world, and the people who live there like it that way. Alaska is pretty much off the map, and the people who live there like it that way. The culture shock of coming home to the "lower 48" again has been significant.

Since it's summertime, I've had the luxury of being able to ease back into a semi-normal routine. And now with a good week and half of being home, I'm realizing that I have in fact established a daily routine, and it is one that's surprisingly devoid of time with God.

It started with not reading the Bible in the morning. I had a ton of email to catch up on, of course, and stuff to do for the book release. I figured I'd start reading the Bible again in a few days.

And I didn't listen to Christian podcasts everyday, either. Normally I watch Joyce Meyer while I get ready in the morning, and listen to James MacDonald or my pastor's podcast in the evening while I cook or clean or do something around the house (instead of having the TV on.) But I hadn't watched any TV in Alaska, and I wanted to catch up on "my shows." The list of unwatched podcasts in iTunes just kept growing.

And of course, it's way too hot to go for a walk and listen to praise music as I like to do in the evenings. I went to the gym instead and read magazines on the elliptical.

And that is how I woke up this morning and realized I had somehow created entirely new daily routines for myself that didn't involve God at all. I had completely edged Him out of my life. It happened just that quickly.

Joyce Meyer says she is frequently asked how she manages to keep her priorities straight with all the responsibilities she has. She credits God with giving her what she feels is the perfect answer: "How do I keep my priorities straight? I'm always straightening them out."

Isn't that true? You can never get your priorities straight once and for all, because life keeps throwing new demands and new distractions at you. Like everything else in our Christian walk, spending time with God is a daily choice and requires moment-by-moment decisions. We have to keep choosing the things of God over the things of the world, again and again and again. And the more that we do this, the less power the things of the world hold over us.

I decided to change my habits, starting today. I read the Bible this morning, just for a few minutes. I went for a walk and listened to some new worship songs I downloaded. Even though my mind was too distracted with other things to really meditate on the lyrics, at least I got back into the habit. After I finish posting this, I'm going to watch one of my backlogged podcasts instead of watching TV while I eat dinner.

I didn't really feel like doing any of those things, to be perfectly honest. But I know what God's word tells us in Proverbs 16:3: Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. My actions are committed once again. My heart and mind will follow, I know.

Lord, give me a heart hungry for Your word, and a soul that delights in being in Your presence. Let there be none on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Amen. (Ps 73:25-26)

Are you struggling to make time with God this summer? How do you keep your priorities straight this time of year?


Anonymous said...

Angela, I just love your writing style. It feels like I'm just listening to a good friend who has great wisdom & advice from listening to God's voice. I, too, have a difficult time giving more time to God. Everything you mentioned is spot on for me as it happens to how to counteract it.

Lola said...

"How do I keep my priorities straight? I'm always straightening them out." How encouraging to hear that! Sometimes the more time I have, the more time I waste. I leave for Alaska this Saturday, more hyped than ever thanks to your photos and glowing remarks, but I am also exhorted to grab my bible as soon as I finish this comment. Alaska may be cold, but my heart doesn't have to be! Thanks for your honesty, sister.

Deb said...

I love that quote from Joyce makes you realize that no one is perfect and is in constant restructuring (by God and self). I go back to school in two weeks and that is when my priorities tend to get "unaligned" for a better lack of words. I am going to post that quote in my bathroom and office so that when I start to get too busy I can realign. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

Angela Watson said...

Thank you ladies! I appreciate your kind words. Lola, I hope you are enjoying your trip. :-)

Barb said...

Angela, I loved the post! I am going back to school for my last year of teaching Kindergarten..then I retire. I am excited, scared, dreading and have so many emotions right now. I know that I need to keep my priorities in line...why do I find myself always struggling with this? My prayer today is: Father, remind me that You have a plan and purpose for each day and situation in my life. Thank you Lord, for loving me and placing me where You want me to be.
Thanks, Angela, for your encouragement. May God bless you!

Barb said...

I loved the post! I am starting back to school next week for my last year of teaching Kindergarten...then I retire. I am feeling so many emotions..excited, scared, and dread. I too struggle with keeping my priorities straight. Why after all these years do I allow myself to get worked up? My prayer is: Father, You know the situations in my life. Please remind me that You are in control and give me peace that I am where You want me to be. Thank you for loving me and working in my life.
Angela, thanks for your encouragement. May God continue to bless you.