I learned a great lesson last week when my friend Chris Frederick questioned a verse that I wrote seven or eight years ago and had heard thousands of times:
“He chose his God instead of food,
instead of putting on a show,
instead of kingdoms in the world —
then commanded hell to go.”
Not only had I carefully reviewed this verse, I’d asked nearly all of the smartest and most spiritual people I know (including Chris) to comment on it. Case closed — or so I thought.
Chris and I suddenly saw that the verse contains a glaring error: “instead of.”
We can’t choose God instead of the world. God is as present right now as he ever was or is ever going to be. The world doesn’t need to go away in order for his presence to become obvious. Our priorities have to change.
Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of heaven and all our needs would be met. God wants to give you the things you need so that you can quit chasing your tail and get down to enjoying life. As soon as I put God “first” — not “only” — God is going to provide everything, in floods.
There’s a vast gulf of difference between “first” and “only.” Putting the kingdom of heaven first means I make God (or who God is) the very first consideration when I wake up. It means seeking God as the first thing I do in the day, whether by prayer or meditation or service. It means putting God first in conversation and in expenditure.
After that I can do whatever I want.
If I do this I’m going to get whatever I want, so I’d better be clear on what I want or I might end up like King David who had “700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines…” (I calculate that David had a royal wedding every two weeks for twenty-five years. If that’s your idea of fun, “go on, and God be with you” as Rumi said.)
“God only” not only keeps you from enjoying life — it keeps you striving in a way that prevents you from seeing the truth that is all around, all the time.
So I had to rewrite my verse. Fortunately it was very easy (for a change):
He put his God ahead of food
ahead of putting on a show
ahead of kingdoms in the world
then commanded hell to go.
“My yoke is easy; my burden light.”
So, “Be very careful what you see and hear” and, “Don’t believe everything you think.”
Spirit of Fire News
Our Kickstarter launch is less than three weeks away! Got the PDF files of the book ready for the printer this week and began making videos of the bookmaking process.
I’m getting very clear on what I want. I want to change the understanding of Christianity on earth from condemnation to love.
How about you?