Friday, June 5, 2009

I am the head, not the tail!

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 "The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them."

There's an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying: "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

Some days I realize just how true that old adage is. I have so many things to do, I just never seem to get caught up. I feel like I'm at the tail end of the line all day long. And when I look back over my life at the end of the day, I wonder just what I accomplished?

Those are the days I need to look at my priorities. Am I a head - really putting God first in all my "busyness" or am I a tail - engaging in things that are unnecessary in God's grand scheme of things?

According to today's verse - there are conditions to becoming the "head and not the tail." Moses instructed Israel to pay attention to God's commands and carefully follow them.

So what are these commands of God that we are to pay attention to and follow? Moses reminded the Israelites of God's commands in chapters 12 through 26 - covering everything from their worship to daily food preparation, to how to treat others. These instructions were an expansion of the basic ten commandments God originally gave him on Mt. Sinai.

In the New Testament, Jesus boiled down those 10 commandments to two - You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

The common thread through all these references to God's commands is that of relationships. How we treat God, others and ourselves is the most important thing to Him.

If I measure my daily activity against Jesus' yardstick, I begin to see that the things I do are only important if they nurture relationships between myself and God or myself and others. Also, they must nurture my own spiritual growth.

Ok - I'm not advocating that we women go on strike and refuse to clean house! But perhaps we need to consider our motives for all the mundane tasks we do. As Christian women, if our motive cleaning furiously is so we can become puffed up by our spotless house, we run the risk of being the "tail."

Consider the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus chided Martha because she was so worried about propriety and duty that she missed a deeper relationship with Him.

Mary on the other hand loved Him so much she was willing to risk her sister's ire to sit at His feet and bask in His presence. Mary definitely got the "head" position.

But I wonder - if Martha's attitude had leaned more toward offering the best food and a restful environment for Jesus because she knew that His teaching, healing and ministry activities tired Him out -would His response have been different? Perhaps He would have had a word of praise for her because of her loving service to Him?

When I feel overwhelmed by my busyness, I wonder how much of my activity is motivated by a need to control, to feel needed or to avoid something else?

If these attitudes drive me, I lose my joy in serving. It becomes a burden rather than a joy to do my tasks. Things take longer to accomplish and I feel disgruntled in the process, often missing opportunities that would bring me even greater joy - just because I'm using up my emotional energy on bitterness and self pity. I will always be "behinder" when my attitudes are off kilter.

Father, examine my heart today. Give me eyes to see my activities as You see them. Teach me to make changes in my attitudes and motives so I do them because of love for You, for others and for myself. Help me come out on top at the end of my day, both spiritually and in all other areas! Amen!

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