Seek First the Kingdom of God

Somehow this advice seemed easier on my ears when I was younger.  Most of the time, I feel like I am seeking to get things done.  In this season of my life, seeking God’s kingdom seems to mean trusting God and relying on grace to carry me day-by-day.  I lean on God a lot, give thanks for all the small ways my life dovetails, and pray all the time that my best efforts will be enough.

In so many ways, this Bible verse takes me back to a simpler time in my life.  Most of all I know this verse as a campfire song, which takes me back to summer camp at Cheley.  We always started the camp season with a cabin meeting, where we created a code of living.  The code was just a list of qualities we appreciate in our friends and the rule of camp was simply to be the friend you would like to have.  The list of qualities read a lot like the fruits of the spirit and also included words like honesty, trustworthiness, sense of humor, and fortitude.

I was reflecting on how different it felt striving to meet the code of living at camp versus the implied “code of living” or set of expectations I seem to have for myself.  It’s a bit discouraging for me to think about how much of my life is preoccupied by this sticky web of often conflicting expectations but these are the goals on my mind:

  • Be knowledgeable:  Keep up with the news on about a hundred and fifteen stocks, industry trends, and the economy (I work in the investment business).  Stay current with financial planning advice.
  • Be dedicated to family:  Make sure our children eat well, get outside, do something creative, brush their teeth, and read every day.   Take time to make memories together with family and expose our children to different experiences.  Prepare for special birthdays and holidays.  Get the children to Sunday school each week.
  • Be responsible:  Meet deadlines at work, remember school paperwork, be careful regarding our own finances, keep various appointments, take care of the car, the laundry, and food shopping; keep up with my continuing education requirements.
  • Be involved:  Help out at church and school, with neighborhood and family gatherings.
  • Be fit:  Figure out how to eat so that I don’t gain weight, but the family still likes what I cook.  Find a way to workout.
  • Be on call 24/7:  I know that something will always come up between work and family so I do my best not to overcommit.
  • Be tidy:  Keep the house in good order (definitely a losing battle, but I am currently reading Marie Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up so maybe there’s hope!)

I keep telling myself that this is just a season of my life.  But a question for my heart:  Do I really seek God’s kingdom first?  Somehow, it feels that my teenage-self seemed to have a better handle on this verse.  As I reflect on it, being a good friend to God and others seems to be a reasonably good way to seek God’s kingdom.  Can I go back in time?

Speaking of traveling back to simpler times, as I pulled out a calligraphy pen for this verse, I thought back to fourth grade and how I would stay inside from recess to be with my favorite teacher Mrs. Grow.  She taught my best friends and I calligraphy.  Mrs. Grow was the very first person to introduce me to words as art!  She also taught the four of us a lot about being friends!

As I was working through the list of Memory verses in Writing in the Margins, I accidently read Matthew 6:26 instead of Matthew 16:26 (I guess I know what verse I’ll be doing next!).  So when I saw Matthew 6:33, I realized I didn’t have room in my margins!  If you find that you run out of room in your margins, you can add a tipped-in page.  Just tape a piece of paper on one edge so that it lifts easily when you want to read the text under the flap.

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