With heads bowed our hands interlocked in a circle. The warmth of Doug’s hand gripped my right, and Gracie’s sweet dimpled hand squeezed my left. Doug said a thanksgiving and asked: “Gracie what are you thankful for?” She replied: “God, thank you for Jesus, my Daddy, and my sweet potato chips. Amen.”
As we lifted our heads to begin dinner Doug and I looked at each other with smirks and raised eyebrows. “Well,” Doug said “at least she’s got her priorities in order! Jesus first.”
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.( Matthew 6:33)
In the evenings before Gracie goes to bed we have a ritual of reading books and singing songs. Pretty typical. What might be a bit atypical are her usual song requests. “Seek Ye First” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” (even when it’s not “in season”) are usually the top picks. Grace loves angels and notices them everywhere she goes. She points them out and often insists on giving them a kiss.
After church services Grace always says: “I wanna go say ‘Hi’ to Jesus!” So we walk back into the empty sanctuary. She climbs up to the rail, places her hands on top, pushes her head against it and closes her eyes. She says a different little prayer every week. I am always curious what it will be. Usually it is “Thanks for Nana and Pappap, and B and Pa” (her grandparents) or “Auntie, Uncle Ricky-rack and Brie” (her God-parents and God-sister) or “Mama and Daddy. Amen.” Then she walks behind the rail to Jesus, says “Hi, Jesus!” and blows him a kiss. Last week when we were leaving the sanctuary she blew a kiss and yelled “Goodbye! I love you Jesus!”
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul (Matthew 22:37)
I am in awe of these little incidents every time. I do not share them to brag or claim that Grace is some sort of “spiritual genius.” I share them because they do indeed amaze me. Doug and I have certainly been laying some foundations of faith at this young age, but not anywhere to the degree that she has inculcated them. These are mainly her thoughts, her words, and self-made traditions. Our prayer is that we continue to raise her up to grow in love of the Lord. But, I have to admit I am awed by her tiny two-year-old faith. And I see her helping grow me and Doug in similar ways that we are trying to grow her. I look at these incidents and I see more than just funny kid stories from “out of the mouths of babes.” I see what Doug saw…. Priorities. I’m reminded. I’m challenged. I ask the question: “Where are my priorities?”
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
Today I ask you to think about that same question. “Where are your priorities?” Is God a priority in your life? Talking to him, learning from him, diving into his word, seeking, serving, and loving him, allowing his transforming power to heal you, feeling the reality of his grace, and the depth of his romantic love? Are these daily priorities, or are they haphazard connections with God that we stumble across from time to time?
The other day Grace climbed on the couch and sat next to where our Nativity is on display. I realize it is February and perhaps it might seem odd that we still have a Nativity on display? There is a reason. I made the decision about 5 years ago to keep at least one Nativity on display in our home year-round. I did so after Doug read me a rather moving excerpt from John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart. In it Eldredge describes how most people think of Christmas as a time of joy and peace. What could be more unifying and joyful than the birth of a child, especially the birth of a messiah? But Eldridge explains the tranquil scene at Bethlehem as something all together different. In Revelation Chapter 12 the Bible describes a great battle between angels and demons at the coming of Christ. Spiritual warfare reared its head. Eldredge says the birth of Christ was far more like God’s D-day invasion than an olive branch extended on a silent night. (Eldredge)
If you know WWII history, you know that once the U.S. joined Allied forces they set priorities for the war effort. “Germany First” and liberating Europe from the grip of Nazi power the top priority. From this decision came the D-day Invasion and the Allies stormed across the continent resulting in the Nazi surrender and the celebration of V-E Day– Victory in Europe! Why were the Allies victorious? The reasons are numerous, but I think it would be safe to say a large part of that victory was because the Allies remained focused and committed to their PRIORITIES.
We keep a Nativity on display year round to remind us that we are in the midst of a mighty battle. That God’s D-day invasion has successfully launched. It often chokes me up, because I draw a deep emotional comparison with the great cost of life paid by the men who fought WWII with the inexplicable cost and sacrifice of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and death on the Cross. When I walk by and see the Nativity on display I am reminded that we are God’s priority. We are the focal point of His liberation effort. We are His first love. So much so that he launched a massive invasion against evil on our behalf—the evil outside us, and the wretchedness within us. He went into a battle that would lead to victory over death: Christ’s death and our death. In him there is freedom. We can hold on to the promise that liberation day is at hand— V-E Day— that is Victory on Earth…
They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
As Grace sat smiling at the Nativity I came in and said “OK, it’s time to go downstairs now.”
“Mama,” She replied. “I just want to sit here with Jesus for a while.”
Hmmmmm. Indeed. How could I interrupt that? And so once again the thought pressed into my brain… We are His priority… but is He ours?
Come, let’s make Him so. Come and sit with Jesus for a while. He has been pursuing you all your life. You are his greatest love and highest priority. He waits for you…
“Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.”
Eldredge, John. “Wild at Heart.” Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001, ps 153-155.