After always being a rather good student, I met my nemesis in high school and it called itself, Chemistry. The classroom itself was always fascinating to me with its knobs and handles, hoods and sinks, and tables meant to extinguish flames. I looked forward to learning about these tools and putting them to use. Like so many things, my expectations of what it could be didn’t entirely capture the reality. Chemistry was a danger zone. With experiments that could explode and react and create other substances, it was a class full of learning but most of it not what you could find in a book. Labs were the best part of the learning and the most important truth was follow directions one at a time and focus on each step and not the product you were trying to get.
I remember, this one time, due to my height I got up on a stool to see and manage one of our group’s tubes that was heating over a Bunsen burner. Instructed to add a chemical slowly to whatever we were heating, my friend quickly placed all of it at once into the tube, missing the direction of ‘slowly.’
A mini explosion erupted as the chemical overflowed the tube and hit the flame of the burner and whoosh--- I was fell back off the stool, caught in the arms of a friend as the smell of my burnt hair filled the air. Yep, in one chemistry class, I had gained bangs and realized chemistry may not be the direction of life I needed to go in. Finishing the year with a low- barely gotten B, I called Science quits as much as I was academically allowed.
The main thing I took from my Chemistry year? (Besides bangs.) It was the idea that there were products of everything we did. Every drop of a chemical could affect the outcome. Even the speed of which we added chemicals affected the outcome and that successful experiments were simply products of a series of small actions that were in directions that must be followed to achieve the desired outcome.
Our January series, entitled FIRST, reminds me of truths learned long ago in a high school lab room. Actions give us products. Matthew 6:33- says to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. This one action leads to these products. But you can’t focus on the products, instead you have to keep your mind in the lab work and focus on the directions that create the products.
In my walk with God, I’ve often asked for things. For instance, “God give me joy.” The truth is that joy is a product of giving thanks and if I focus on the action of giving thanks, follow God’s directions of giving thanks—I experience joy.
In Matthew 6:33, the these things Jesus is talking about is from earlier verses when He talks about the things we focus on so often like clothes, shelter, food and how to get them, but also includes, the peace we long for, the confidence and security we need and like I said, the joy we all desire. What if, like following the directions in an experiment to get a product---we are to seek first as our direction—with all else flowing out of that obedience?
Blake’s talks in FIRST reminded us to get our focus on the action of seeking Him, it reminded us that seeking Him came in actions like loving others and it reminded us that our eternal identity is solely established from the action of seeking Him.
May we enjoy consistency in putting Him first.
I know that it is an “experiment” filled with products I need in my life. I know that focusing on the products misses the entire lab work of the seeking. I know that sometimes my efforts in chasing products blow up in my face.
I pray for all of us that 2019 is a year where the needs and longings of our hearts are fulfilled and I pray that we all have the realization that all those needs and longings are products of seeking Him FIRST.