God shouldn’t be a priority.
In the Board of Ordained Ministry interviews, we were often asked about our self-care. Pastors, just like many other working people, have a tendency to work TOO much. To allow work to consume us, to become our “idol,” and lose focus of what/who we are actually working for.
So when people in my Residency in Ordained Ministry would brainstorm answers we would say something like, “I believe that God should be first. Family second. Church third.”
When Mack was in dialogue with Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu as his time at the shack was drawing to a close, he was asking them how they expected him to live his life. They were trying to stress to him that there weren’t “expectations” (this will be the devotion on Easter), but that they wanted a living, engaged, full life WITH Mack. Therefore, priorities shouldn’t be what they were focusing on.
“The trouble living by priorities is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?”
Papa said, “I don’t want just a piece of you and a piece of your life. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.” (p. 206-207)
How ABSOLUTELY FREEING!!!!
If we will stop and think about it for a few minutes we will see how truly freeing this is! Now, we won’t have to worry about “Am I spending enough time in prayer?” Or “Am I focusing enough on God so that God is first in my life?”
This non-hierarchical way of viewing our relationship with God changes everything! We become immersed IN God, not just a detached component of some greater universe.
Use this analogy . . . instead of a pyramid and God is at the top and then all the other parts/pieces of life lie underneath, what if we view it as a mobile or a set of wind chimes, with God as the absolute center. Then, everything in our lives – our friends, families, jobs, thoughts, activities – are connected to God but move with the wind, in and out, back and forth, in this incredible dance of being. (p. 207)
If we can let go of this notion that we have to be “perfect” for God and we will embrace that God loves us – all of us, even the imperfections, we can begin to live life not separate from God and only give God pieces, but we can live TOTALLY immersed in the oneness of God and feel the freedom and true life that brings.
St. Bonaventure said, God is “within all things but not enclosed; outside all things, but not excluded; above all things, but not aloof; below all things, but not debased.” Bonaventure spoke of God as one “whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Therefore the origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fullness, activity, and order of all created things are the very “footprints” and “fingerprints” of God.
God’s center is everywhere and we are invited to live totally and completely in that center.
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5