Thursday, June 28, 2018
Quiet Retreat: Seek First
This phrase "seek first" has been on my mind lately and I sort of mentally filed it away to pursue, study and process at my annual quiet retreat.
So, here I am sitting at a cute table on the Castle lawn soaking up the beauty around me and asking what it looks like in daily life to seek first.
Turning to Matthew 6:33 - I want to see what I can gain and how to apply this.
I notice that verse 33 starts with "but" which implies that it contrasts what has come before. What comes before is the command not to worry about what we will eat, drink, wear and the reminder that our Heavenly Father knows we need those things. It's as if that 1st word were instead.
Instead of worrying, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
What does it mean to seek? Seek is active, it is a doing word - a verb! To seek is to look for, search out, pursue. So to actively be searching for, pursuing and looking for what -
Instead of worrying, actively search for ways to invest in His kingdom, further His name, build up the Gospel in my own life and the lives of others before pursuing other goals.
Seeking first reminds me of the priority of this active pursuit. It comes before other things. There is no place before first, no question on what that means - this active searching comes when I'm at my best - before I'm tired, before the cares of the day sweep me along, FIRST means first in my heart. It is a giving of my best: time, energy, resources.
Again, I seek first His kingdom. What does that mean? His kingdom is ruled by Him so it could mean choosing things that fall under His authority and leadership, keeping in mind what things are of eternal value, honoring His kingdom by devoting my best self to it: my resources, sharing, serving, etc. Honoring His kingdom by how I live, my choices, how I use the time He has given me. His kingdom is based on truth, forgiveness of sin, holiness, purity - seek these things first.
Is it true?
Is it noble?
Is it right?
Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
Is it admirable?
Is it excellent?
Is it praise-worthy?
Seek first His righteousness. What does that mean? Out of all the options I could pattern my life after - His righteousness should be the ultimate model shouldn't it?
Then, after all this - we are reminded that all the things we aren't supposed to worry about will be given as well. It's an act of faith and trust - this seeking first, instead of seeking first an orderly home, seeking first my comfort, seeking first cares over what I think I need -
Instead, seek first: Him!
Instead of worry, focus the best of my resources on actively looking to Him.
Practical ideas of how to do this:
- have my quiet time during my best time of the day
- look for what I learn about God before looking for what it means to me
- practice replacement thinking: replace worry with trust, replace worry with actively looking
- be thankful: when I'm actively looking for how He is at work, I will see all the ways He cares for me
- worry is based on: what-if; seek first is based on: principle, trustworthiness of His character, truth
- worry is about me; seek first is about God
- worry is earthly and temporal; seek first is heavenly and eternal
- in the moment, name the worry and seek His kingdom and righteousness in it; what do I know to be true? Who do I know God is? Regardless of the outcome - what is the TRUTH?
- seeking first is for spiritual food; worry is for physical food/needs
- seeking first is inner self focused; worry is outer self focused
As I am writing this, a robin is nearby with a worm in its beak - what a fitting picture as I consider Matthew 6 where God reminds that He even cares for the birds!
What ideas do you have for seeking first?