I’m gonna go a little bit sideways with this meditation. Perhaps like a baseball pitcher who throws curves and sliders setting up the batter for his smokin’ fastball. The difference is I hope you hit it out of the park. I don’t want it to get by ya.
After all you are reading this and have been at it for a month or so now. If anything, the season of Lent offers an opportunity to set new rhythms. We forego things which are not (hopefully) bad in themselves in hopes of establishing priority. Only in the last hundred years or so has the idea of priorities (plural) come into use. Simply put, priority means that which comes first, the ‘sine qua non’ without which nothing. So if there is something which is the priority, we must prioritize it, it must come first!
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ( The Shema) “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."
We don’t have to wonder what the priority is. God hides it in plain sight, huh! It is not merely personal, it’s generational, and it is utterly transformative.
So what inhibits whole hearted obedience: pain from previous hurts (physical or spiritual), pleasures of the world, lack of faith, poor choices or examples. Maybe we have just not made the first thing the first thing. God wants (demands) first fruit. When our time, our finances, our thoughts are first given to Him we receive reward, “that we may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him in the next” (to borrow from the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr.)
So today’s scripture selection offers a how to list toward our priority: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8. Now go back to the Shema.
Isn’t God lovely!
Other things that are part of who each of us are individually are still there: gardening, golf, sports, travel, cooking, sewing, hunting, fishing, even cars (personal honorable mention) but they are given back as personal expressions properly subject to the priority.
I note there are 20-25 of us actively engaged with these meditations, what if we each invited just one more. More transformation, a good thing.
(For further exploration contemplate the fruit (note again singular) of the Spirit, like facets of a jewel in Galatians 5:22,23, and the supplements to faith enumerated in 2 Peter 1:5-7, lists can be good)
Daily Reading: fill your mind