• A Lettered Love

FIRST


There are lines all over the world of those waiting to be first. In fact, the very purpose of standing in queue is to arrive at first position. Some grow weary of the wait and step out allowing those more patient, less busy or those who have more time to move ahead.


"I want to do well at this, and the start of each new day is the opportunity to do just that."

First is a big responsibility.

The expectations and hopes for the first born, the first to graduate high school or the first to earn a college degree.


First is inspiring.

Every Olympic athlete covets the gold. Without first, there would be no second, third or fourth.


First is memorable.

First kiss, baby's first step, a stroke victim's first spoken word.


First is rewarding.

Earning accolades, ribbons, certificates, scholarships and bragging rights.



Yet, when Christ demonstrated how He first loved us, it was without all of the fanfare and applause. At least, not here on earth. It was a most humble birth and a common death. Yet, all the happenings in between were extraordinary.


As believers we must deny first. The human tendency for self-promotion must be surrendered as we are called to esteem others higher than ourselves. As marrieds, we understand this; our spouse before ourselves. As parents we know the needs of the children are paramount above our own. As disciples, we are to make God first in all areas of life and to do that requires all that has held that place to be demoted. Every altar of self, overthrown.


What a daily pursuit, this not being first. And not the easiest of tasks. Not rushing ahead to beat the crowd or being silent when everything in you wants to inform, correct, opine, and debate. All, at the very heart of it, exalts self.


I'm not quite sure how I'm doing, not being first. My victories vacillate depending on the day and the surrounding circumstances. I want to do well in this and the start of each new day offers the opportunity to do just that. Thank God for the assurance that the work He began in me will be completed as I continue to give Him first place in my life.


How about you? Do you struggle with the denial of first position or fight to maintain it?


God is working in us. He understands all of our shortcomings, our weaknesses. If you are like me and not always winning in this, we have the greatest example in Christ. He, who had legions of angels at His disposal to deliver Him out of His mission on earth, chose to stay. He chose us. "Let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless NOT my will be done, but Yours." For a split second, there was a little bit of self-preservation in that prayer. Yet, the choice He made and continued to make, was for us. He was determined to seal the deal. He denied first place for our sakes.


How do we combat this human condition of all things self-centered? By being God-centered. By looking through prayed-up fresh eyes at what sits before you on any given day and much like Jesus, CHOOSE.


So, the next time FIRST screams for your attention, like that lady cutting in the self-service line at Costco, or when you're tempted to hug the fender of that ridiculously slow driver in front of you, or when your family members' needs threaten your highly anticipated self-care day of isolation bliss, perhaps the more God-glorifying response is grace. Grace in a side-step to let that pushy lady go before you in line. You never know, she may have an emergency she needs to get to. Grace in applying of your brakes to put a little distance between you and that slow moving vehicle driven by that nervous driver trying to build their confidence on the road. Grace in clearing part of your schedule so you help someone work through a problem when they need a sounding board.


First isn't everything it's hyped up to be. SECOND lends itself to many more opportunities to be a blessing. And LAST? Well, I think that's where the gold is. That's where the "lay down of one's life for a friend" kind of sacrificial giving is. Perhaps we can follow Jesus in this regard and put others first, before ourselves.


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