“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12, ESV)
God does not want to be put first. He wants to be put center.
- At the center of your day
- At the center of your marriage
- At the center of your career
- At the center of your budget
- At the center of your friendships
He is not another thing among many. He is everything.
Imagine if a husband tells his wife that she is his first love. The implication is that he has other loves. That would not do. He would rightfully tell her that she is his only love and he has forsaken all others.
God does not want a portion of our hearts. He does not want most of our hearts. He wants all of our hearts. But we have a way of portioning out our affection. We certainly love God, but there are many other things we love that compete for our affection. There is a reason that the 1st Commandment is: You shall have no other gods. (see Exodus 20:3).
Yesterday, we spoke about the slow fade and how we come to a place we never imagined we would find ourselves. We get there when we take God out of the center. We get distracted by good things that pull us away from the greatest thing. God gets crowded out of the center by other things.
To get back to where we need to be is not going to happen with a half-hearted commitment. It will not happen unless we step up and say that we are all in. This is not sticking your foot in the water. It is taking the plunge.
Learning to Say No
The hardest part of total commitment is not saying yes. It is saying no. To fully endeavor yourself means that there are some tough choices to be made. It means giving up things you may not want to give up.
F.O.M.O. is an acronym that stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It is what leads us to try to do it all. It is the lure that leads us to relentlessly check social media. We don’t want to miss anything that might be important. We can’t say no because we fear we will miss out. But the problem is that when everything becomes important, nothing is important.
What is holding you back from more passionately pursuing God’s will for your life? What is hindering you from placing God fully into the center of your life?
People often consider giving up something for Lent. It is tied to the spiritual discipline of fasting. But fasting is not so much about giving up food (or anything else). We give up to get something more. We may give up food for a time period so that we can get more undistracted time with God. It is not giving up something for the sake of giving something up. It is saying no to a lesser thing so that we can say yes to the greater thing.
A key coming out of the slow fade is a wholehearted commitment. A major part of that commitment is to forsake other commitments. To what will you say no so that you can say yes to what is most important? What are the tough choices you need to make?
- Say no to social media to have undistracted time with people you are physically present with?
- Say no to binge-watching television to read more?
- Say no to Amazon spending to be more generous with others and to save more?
- Say no to fast food to lose weight and be more healthy?
- Say no to staying up late to wake up early for devotion or exercise?
- Say no to accumulated possessions to simplify life and lessen responsibility?
- Say no to social acquaintances to have deeper and more meaningful friendships?
Often times we think we can moderate ourselves. But we are indulgent beings. We become consumed by things with which we should not be consumed with. There may be times where you can moderate. But the further you have faded into the darkness, the harder the commitment will be and the more important the word no will become.
- What is the hard “no” you need to make?
- Where does F.O.M.O have its grip on you?
- What is one thing you could change in your life that would have the biggest positive impact to center God in your life?
Lord, I want to love you and return to you with all my heart. But I have so many things that have competed for my allegiance and affection. It is so hard to let go. But I know that things have got to change. I feel pulled in a million different directions and I am not living an effective life. Give me the power of your spirit to surrender my idols. They have a powerful grip on me. I know that until that grip is released I will remain trapped. Please help me to break free from all that is pulling me away from you. Amen.