My son Ian is 6, and he just started first grade. We might have dropped the ball on teaching him how to tie his shoes for a while, because I’m the type of person who says, “Here, let me do it.” I already know how, so it’s faster and will stay tied all day. As the school year began to approach, I realized that, while this made my mornings easier, I was not setting him up for success as a human being. So I did what every good parent does and I went to Amazon and bought a book that would teach him. True story. Summers are busy for me. So the book came two days later (thank you, Prime), and we got to work. The first few times were horrible. I don’t remember learning how to do this. Clearly I’ve blocked it from my memory. Ian was not happy. He threw an actual fit at the idea of practicing five times a day, and who can blame him? Long laces, tiny hands and unmastered dexterity are a recipe for waiting as long as possible to teach your kid this. I found myself saying, “First things first” over and over to my poor kid who kept wishing he could just already know how to do this.

After the message on Sunday, I found myself being able to really relate to Ian when it comes to my relationship with God. I want to have already arrived. I want to know it all, know the right thing to do and the correct choice to make. Often, in my frustration of not being there, I am tempted to choose to do nothing or to quit trying because, like Ian, I don’t want to do hard things. I can hear God telling me, “First things first.”

When it comes to our relationship with God, there is an order on our end. We need to practice having healthy habits because sometimes doing things in the right order takes practice. We covered several of these first things on Sunday:

• Put God first in your life.
• Give him the first of everything.
• Expect God to bless the rest.

Y’all, this is hard. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t be doing this series. I think we fall into the trap of doing things backwards, and who can blame us? We start by expecting God to bless us. This is easy! Ephesians 3:30 tells us that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. Sign me up for a double-dose of that!

However, this is not step one. God tells us, “First things first.” In 2 Chronicles, Solomon had just finished building the temple, which was going to be God’s dwelling place on earth. Look at what he says:

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”
2 Chronicles 7:12–16

If we do the first things first, we start here. We put him first, we turn our face to him and pray, and then we wait for the blessing. When we practice this and choose to get this right, we reap the reward and wonder why we didn’t start here sooner.