Prodigal: Let’s race!
Me: I don’t know if you are going to win in that.
Prodigal: Maybe it is better not to be first.
I want to be last. That is right, pass me by please. Just move on ahead of me. Take the ribbon, take the platform, and take the mic. I plan on being last.
Well, what about the standing ovation, the line of people admiring you. The questions of how did you do it all. No please finish before me, take that spot. Well how about the money, and recognition? How about taking two months off, and sitting on a beach with no schedules for the day? Take my spot, and please make sure I am last.
Jennifer are you feeling ok? Look around, how will you get ahead if you plan to be last. Nobody wants to be last. Everybody wants to be first. Everybody wants to finish first.
I am feeling fine, I want to be last. This is something new, I was very concerned about being first before. I wanted to be the smartest. I wanted a lot of money. I wanted to be the best therapist. I wanted to even be beautiful above others. I wanted to be first.
Have you lost your confidence? Are you down on your self? No I just found where my confidence should be. I found where my focus should be.
Sometimes the world has it wrong, and I listened to the world. I did not completely understand, but once again Jesus showed me the truth.
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-along with persecutions- and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
See I need to be last. This isn’t about what happens around me. This is about what happens inside me. When I said I wanted money, I wanted to be smart, I wanted to be beautiful. That became my focus. That was my life to obtain those things are maintain those things. I had to have best clothes, hair, and be physically fit. I had to continue to study everything to have all the answers. I had to work all I could to increase my money. I had to be the best therapist so that others around me could recognize these things.
As that became my pursuit, something happened to me on the inside. I was a tree that had a disease, and was decaying on the inside. At first no one would be able to notice the disease had set in, I had strong bark on the outside. The disease keeps spreading though. Eventually others will see the disease on the tree. The bark will eventually become soft, and parts will fall off. Just as the tree was effected, my speech, my choices, and relationships would be effected by this disease.
The disease had a by product that it produce inside me. That by product was pride, arrogance, selfishness, and unrest. The little choices, and sometimes the big choices were really about my pride, my selfishness and left me empty with unrest. Did others pick up on it, mostly no. I had developed a way to hide it all. I could talk, and even appear that I was unselfish about the decision. I could not run from what was happening inside of me.
What happened? God brought me a wonderful trial. He brought me to a group of people who thought I was last. I did not do things the way they did them. That was the difference. These were all preferences of how to accomplish tasks. Even though they were just preferences I found myself at the bottom. They put me at the bottom, and maybe sure they spoke to me about how I was on the bottom. The conversations would center around how I should work my way to the top.
With a constant speech with every interaction about how these people thought I was on the bottom, I was surrounded with negative thoughts focused on me. I began to seek the Lord about the truth, it was all I knew I could do.
The Lord showed me my pride, arrogance and selfishness that had been a disease inside of me. I slowly took the journey of repentance, and change. I slowly started realizing that money, beauty, being physically fit, smart, good therapist were not bad. What did need to change though was my motives behind it, and the ability to surrender all that if I needed to.
I learned that how people rank me does not matter. How the Lord ranks me is everything. That is what this scripture is telling me. Lord states some people who think they are first will be last. Some people have a disease inside of them. Maybe some of their disease is like mine, some of it is different. Some don’t know they have it, just like I was. Some of the disease is not outward in appearance yet, and they are able to hide it. It is still there. The inside of them is wrapped up in being first, and themselves.
It was by God’s grace that He was able to not only show me, but encourage me in change.
I still work out because I know God approves of me trying to take care of my body. I also know that if I could not move tomorrow that would be something I could surrender. I work to be the best therapist. I work from a heart issue to please God in my work performance. If God called me to stop being a therapist tomorrow, I would. I still like to have money, but I also enjoy giving money just as much. I still like to be called beautiful, but God sees beauty on the inside, and not just the outside. So how am I working to make myself beautiful on the inside.
So please make me last. If I am praised, it is not because of me. It is because of what God has done in me. I was full of disease, but now I am healed. The world’s rank of me really doesn’t matter to me as much anymore. I am ok if you are ranking me last right now. If this writing is last, and not that good. I am ok. God is showing me something else. God is showing me still loves me, and is still happy that I choose to write today.
As I think about it, being last is pretty peaceful, maybe you could join me.
Know therefore that the Lord Thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which kept covenant and mercy with them that Love Him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.
Jennifer Van Allen