First and Foremost

And just like that, another year is upon us! We stand gazing into the future of opportunity and, …uncertainty. For some, this coming year will mark new beginnings, perhaps it will be a benchmark year of a new relationship, welcoming a new member to the family, a long-sought trip, or a new job, maybe a new opportunity of a completely unknown genre. Undoubtedly, for others, it will mark a year of unforeseen challenge or loss, one destined to hone our character. Perhaps we are ready, willing and able to face the future, whatever unfolds. Perhaps, maybe not so much–maybe some of us have not sufficiently dealt with last year yet.

Maybe the extent to which we are positioned to accept the blessings of the future is dependent upon the trappings of years past. Are we prepared to move forward and receive all that God has for us? Or, are we so anchored to the weights of previous years, that this year is compromised before we even begin?

It doesn’t take much skewing of our compasses before we realize that the way before us is not the charted course once sought. And we are not the only ones to commit this error. This has been the bane of God’s people for millennia. God levies a very serious charge through His servant Jeremiah to the nation of Israel:

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

Two indictments, two evils are identified against the people of the Lord. The first is turning their backs on the true fountain of living waters–God. The other is seeking to put something else in the place of God, and what could possibly do that?

Minimally, the people have neglected Deuteronomy 6, to love God with all of their hearts, souls, and might. Instead, they have relegated Him to a diminished position. Second, against that they have sought to introduce something else to replace Him; breaking the first law of the Ten Commandments; “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

The concern is not whether the offenses have been deliberate, or unintentional; the point is that they have been done at all. God has been forgotten, and a very real attempt has been made to fabricate something of value in His place. At the very core of this indictment is the people’s openness, willingness to seek to replace God with another deity, another theological system, one which in no way would contain any blessing whatsoever.

I hesitate to define what any given “cisterns” may be in the modern context, as we all have tendencies, but I would surmise that they include material objects of sorts: houses, cars, money. They could include people, a job, or positions. Corner offices. Titles. Even self. The bottom line is that they are not able to contain anything near the nature and glory of God.

Two verses earlier God contends, “But My people have changed their glory,
For that which does not profit” (Jeremiah 2:11).

Just ouch! What were they thinking?! (What were we thinking?). Ouch again!

As we stand at the gateway of another year, perhaps, it is wise to ask “Have we committed these evils ourselves?” Have we carelessly sought, or merely allowed something to contend for the glory of God’s presence in our lives? Have we foolishly surrendered some measure of glory for that which is nothing more than fool’s gold?

We have choices. Will we begin a new diet in order to eat healthier? Will we begin a new workout regimen? Will we resolve to read a book, or start a business? Will we be more determined to tidy things up around the house? Will we patch up an old relationship? Maybe so, and those goals do have their merits. But, may I suggest that the single solitary most important purpose of our being this coming year would be to revere God as sovereign glorious ruler over our lives?

In the blink of an eye, we’ll be saying “And just like that another year is upon us!” And we’ll be looking back at this year to assess its merits. Will it be another compromised, and absent of the proper glory, and the presence of the divine? Or will it be one rich in relationship with the fountain of living waters?

I pray you resolve to place Him first and foremost in your life, this year and forever.