Monday, June 13, 2011

Seek Ye First

I sat on a bench under a magnolia tree Saturday holding my life and my relationships with several people in prayer. This song is the message I was given:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God,
And its righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you,
Allelu, alleluia

At meeting for worship this message was given me: “When I seek first the kingdom of God, all aspects of my life take their rightful place.” I did not share it for the stupid reason that the two people sitting immediately next to me on both sides shared messages and I thought, I dunno, it would seem like we were sitting in the vocal ministry section, or something. That and I was testing it to see if the message was for me or to share. Worship ended without the message being shared and so I write it out and elaborate on it here.

I don’t know what I think about heaven. Maybe there is heaven and maybe there is not. It is sort of irrelevant to me. Most people think heaven is the kingdom of God, some wondrous place they’ll go to live with God after they die. Jesus said “the kingdom of God is within you” and “the kingdom of God is now”. What this means to me is that this world, this life, this reality (as we know it) is all God’s. Right now is heaven. God is within each of us and each of us is always living in the kingdom of God, if only we awaken to it. The awakening can be called salvation, enlightenment, hearing the still, small voice or being broken open by the Divine Light. However we name it, it is becoming aware of God so we may act in accord with God’s will for us. When we know God, we want to act for God and with God. Jesus said these are the most important commandments: “Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” In doing these, we are becoming alive to the kingdom of God and we begin to actively work to help others become aware of it by being manifestations of God’s love for us.

I mostly live a me-centric life. I care for my children and visit with friends and attend meeting for worship and committee meetings. I run errands and read books and take walks. I’m unemployed so I have lots of extra time on my hands to waste, which I do most effectively. Often, I find myself feeling scattered or scared or frazzled or anxious=life out of balance=living for me=not living for God. When I become aware of God and seek first the kingdom of God, the things that cause disharmony in me become small parts of a much bigger picture; those aspects of my life that have been out of balance quietly fall into their rightful places. My life becomes centered on God so I become attentive to God in my every action and aware that I am reflecting God to others.

I have been blessed by God with a deepening of an old friendship. In a short time, this person has gone from being a casual friend to being someone very important to me. We have many things in common but the most important aspect of our relationship is that we both try to be aware to seek God’s will for us first. We can laugh about most anything and engage in frivolous activities but we both try to maintain an awareness of how we reflect God in our lives. I enjoy his company so much that I want to be with him as often as I can. The temptation is to make my time with him the center point in my life. I am conscious of a difference when I seek the kingdom first versus when I put myself, my desires and wants, first. When I act for myself, I become greedy and self-ish. I want. I can’t get enough. NOW. When I seek God’s kingdom, I gain perspective; I become mindful of my wants in context of God’s will for me. I trust and know that God will guide me to do what is best for me so I may best reflect God’s love. When I spend time in prayer and quiet contemplation, I discover I am able to be patient and know that all will unfold as it should.

Over the years I’ve come to almost hate the word “blessed” because it is so over- and mis-used. “Have a blessed day” should be banned from ever being spoken. In spite of my intense dislike of this word, I have to say that blessed is how I feel. God has blessed me with so much good, including-especially-my longing for God. And now, contrary to my plans and ideas for myself, God has brought this amazing friendship into my life which is enriching me in ways too many to number. The main gift of this relationship, though, is that I am learning to make God the center of the relationship. I am not able to articulate what this means to me, how much joy doing so gives me; I can only say I am deeply, overwhelmingly grateful. God is actively working in my life and I don’t think I am special or unique to be so touched. I believe God is available to each of us; we must only be willing to listen.


Mark Wutka said...

Mary Linda,
This is quite beautiful. One of the things I think about in relation to the Kingdom of God is that it is what Isaiah is describing with phrases like "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." The peace, the rightness, the ordering of your life that you feel is something that can be experienced at a larger level as we all learn to live into the kingdom. I think that to understand that, you first have to experience it in your own life, as you have.
With love,

FriendKit said...

ML, I am grateful to read this today. It is a lovely reminder. It says much of what I believe. I am also constantly tempted to look for "what do I want to do next?" rather than "what does the God in me lovingly lead me to do next?" So often, I feel the internal question and then the clear, but flash of answer, and then feel myself mentally run away from that loving internal knowing back to "but I want to..."
Another personal comment: when I cannot decide what do do in the big picture of my life, it has happened that there is something that is 'next' that I haven't even dreamed of...
May your friend have the easiest of possible times with her surgery.
Gratitude for sacred relationships!!

Friendly Mama said...

Amen Kit! Gratitude for loving Friendships.

Yes! I imagine a world in which we may all come to understand God's reign is right now within us and around us. You've written on your blog about our (Friends) reticence sharing with others about how God has touched us. For me, when I am living with awareness of God, with my life rightly ordered, I can't help but talk about it.

When I read your words I have the song "Vine and Fig Tree" in my head, which is lovely.