What Does It Mean to Put God First?
It's a clich_ we hear all the time, but what would it look like if we actually did it?
Imagine a typical day for a twentysomething Christian. She wakes up to her ringtone alarm, checks her email and notiﬁcations and hits snooze. She utters a one-minute prayer to cover all her bases—thank You, bless this, ask for that, amen—and rushes to the shower.
By 9 a.m., she’s clocked into work at the office or heading to class, praying for the weekend to come sooner. During lunchtime, she meets with her friends while trying to steal some time to look at Facebook.
And from then until she hits the pillow, her day is ﬁlled with meeting deadlines, doing chores and errands and generally trying to keep on top of things before another day is over.
Life is not easy for today’s generation. There’s too little time and too many tasks. We need to study, work, keep up on house chores, socialize and relax at the same time.
The question is, where should we put God in the equation?
As Christians, we know at a head level that God should take ﬁrst priority in our lives. He comes ﬁrst, and everything else is secondary. And even thinking of Christ as a “priority” doesn’t come close to the reality that He is King—over every detail of our daily lives. Yet how often is He our waking thought each morning? How often do we reach for our phones instead?
The virtual world is alluring. It claims to offer everything: pleasure, entertainment, education, socialization and even spiritual growth. At some point, though, we enter into information overload.
Everyone’s trying, begging, ﬁghting or pleading to get just 10 seconds of our attention, promising a valuable product, service or information in return.
Yet while each of these input channels ﬁghts for our attention in our overworked brains, so does God. But unlike them, God doesn’t remind us of His presence with an ad or a convenient notiﬁcation. He’s always there for us, but we have to decide to come to Him.
While technology has brought humanity to the next level, it has also altered our values. Emails and texts make our prayer lives more distracted. Endless facts and data make us more skeptical of truth. And when you can just pick up the phone and talk to a loved one in an instant, what’s the use of coming to God ﬁrst?
In a fast-moving world, what grabs our attention is that which is faster, better and brighter. We are accustomed to instant answers and results. We are masters at multi-tasking, trying to get everything done in our own grand timing.
Why is it that it’s only when something’s gone wrong—or there’s nothing else to do—that we ﬁnally turn to God?
We might then wait for His answers, but not for long. Unconsciously, we give Him a deadline. It’s difficult for us to put our faster-is-better mentality on hold while we wait for God’s guidance. The best time to do anything is now, so why wait—right?
More often, we expect God to mold into our own lives and schedules. It’s no longer us who need to adapt to His ways—it’s Him who needs to adapt to ours, we think.
The truth is, the virtual world would do just ﬁne without you. But you would not do just ﬁne without God. There will always be one more snippet of information to absorb online. But are there really harsh consequences for missing those updates? If we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes it’s easier to miss a week’s worth of devotions, of time spent checking in with our heavenly Father and listening for His voice and guidance.
The digital world has enough news and opportunities to get anyone hooked. And it can be a great and wonderful thing within proper boundaries. But even when it’s not, we can’t blame technology for our spiritual neglect. If consulting God ﬁrst is not in our daily agenda, even without Facebook and YouTube, we will simply ﬁnd other things to tend ﬁrst.
Perhaps it’s time we readjust our faith from turning to God when it’s convenient to recovering our lost fear of the Lord. We show Him we don’t fear Him every time we prioritize other things ﬁrst.
So, how do we recover a lost fear of the Lord? By seeking Him. By intentionally pursuing Him ﬁrst in our daily actions—from the moment our alarm goes off until we fall asleep again. By praying and asking for His guidance not only when things go wrong, but on every occasion. By encountering Him through His Word and listening to how He wants us to live it every day.
God is not a back-up plan but the Planner of life itself. And as we slowly change our daily habits to recognize this, we will slowly reshape our priorities and recharge our faith.