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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Graber

I love Jesus Above All Else

 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ --Luke 10:27

Have you ever had a special something that you couldn't bear to part with? My brother had a blankie--like Linus. My daughter had a pink tee shirt that she wore everyday (when I wasn't washing it). My son had a Woody that traveled everywhere with us. I had a cat. For as much as I am a dog lover, my pet cat--Tiger--was my boon companion from the time I was 9 until I was about 25.

Lately, I have been thinking about how things can get in the way of me loving Jesus or of me putting God first. I wouldn't say I put Tiger in front of God, but sometimes I am guilty of putting people I love or things I want to do or acquire before prioritizing things like...well...God.

  1. My children. Sometimes, I put my children first. I feel anxious sometimes because I want my kids to be safe. Yet, I should be trusting God to see them through. He loves my children, too. Let's be honest here; God is bigger, better, and stronger than I am, and He can do more to protect my children than I can. Of course, God is also the best teacher. Sometimes my actions get in the way of what God is trying to do in their lives. So, I need to let them have their experiences and keep praying over my children.

  2. My parents. As my parents advance in years, I find that things are shifting a bit. I thought my parents were immortal superheroes, but it turns out they are human beings. That means, they might not be here (in this life) forever. I'm not sure how I ever could have overlooked that detail. Many of my friends have lost their parents, but in my 50s, my parents are both still living and are in good health. What a blessing! Still, giving them immortality isn't quite what God means by his command to Love Him above all things.

  3. My career. I read a story once (James Patterson, I think, but I can't remember the name of the book) that talked about how life is like juggling 5 balls: 4 of the balls are glass: One ball represents family; one ball represents friends; one ball represents health; one ball represents a relationship with God. The fifth ball represents careers and is rubber. Career paths can bounce around, but the glass balls represent relationships that are more fragile. The result is that dropping one of these can causing the glass to chip or even break. Now, my career is valuable to me, but I must remember that one relationship should be valued above all things: My relationship with God.

The Bible says to put God before all things:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

In the sixth book of Matthew, Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount. This passage is talking about how God wants us to seek Him first. People who seek righteousness or right according to God will be rewarded with good results. If my eyes are fixed on the rewards of being in God's kingdom, then I will not have time to focus on other stuff I can't control anyway.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Paul's letter to the Colossians is instructional, but with essentially the same message as Matthew 6:33: Seek God first! The imperative Paul writes here doesn't immediately seem to need explanation in my mind, but the number of times I have tried to implement this statement and failed suggests I need to focus my thoughts more on God and spend more time reading the Bible. Too many times I get wrapped up in things happening from day to day and forget to keep my eyes on God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) ...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Truly, if our eyes are fixed on God, how can we go wrong? With Jesus as "the pioneer and perfecter of faith," we have the example of what doing good works looks like. We don't have to suffer like Jesus because suffered and died, then rose again to take away the pain and suffering cause by sin. We just need to persevere and fix our eyes on the ever after.

Focusing on love this month (and we will continue into February) has revealed so many things to me about my own behavior. I love words, and how I use words to talk about people I love, things I love, and God has shifted a bit as I reconsider what to prioritize in my life. My cat has been gone a long time, and my biography tells a brief story about our family pet, Dash, whom I still miss--even though he is also gone.

1 John 2:17 (NIV) says "The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." This is where I want my end: at the beginning of eternity with my God and Savior. One of the wills of God is to love God with everything I have (Luke 10:27). The definition of love is in 1 Corinthians 13, but I will let Julie expound on that. Today, my focus is on showing God's love by giving up everything to God. I'm starting with the serenity prayer, which I will put below for anyone who needs it, and letting go of the things I cannot control. God's got everything I don't.

Friends, if you haven't said the prayer today, take a little time to walk with God and surrender.

Best, Michelle

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Reinhold Niebuhr

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