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What’s Your Ultimate?


Gwen Smith

September 11, 2015

Blog, Christian Living, Devotions, Scripture, Worship

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Look to God

My heart plays ping-pong. It shifts focus from one affection to another faster than you can say, “Squirrel!” I have never been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD – or any other condition with scary capitol letters – but I’ve surely been known to major on some minors in my day. Practically every day. I worry about things that don’t really matter… at least not eternally.

The other day started out great. In the wee hours of early, I poured some hot coffee, grabbed my prayer journal and my Bible, and headed to the couch to spend time with God. My heart spilled with worship as I fixed my affections on Him. I was prepared to start my day. Fueled and focused.

A while later, my son came downstairs ready for school. We exchanged tender morning greetings and hugs as he grabbed a bowl for cereal. But when he sat down to eat, I realized that he was wearing two different socks. As he ate his breakfast, I tried to lovingly influence him toward a matching pair… to no avail. Hmmph! When he left for the bus stop, I was horrified, so I lamented. Where have I gone wrong with this child? Why does his 13-year old brain not think it is inappropriate to wear un-matching socks? What will people think? Surely the teachers will have a juicy gossip session in the lunchroom about how awful and inadequate I am as a mother because my “it’s-all-good” child went to school with two different socks!

AS IF it matters.

Ping. Pong.

My heart can turn on a dime. One moment it is fixed on the Lord and the next it prioritizes drama. Does God care if my son’s socks match? I’m thinking No. Is it okay to want my children to wear matching socks? Yes. Surely I can speak into a practical matter, but the way I respond matters more – especially if things don’t go my way. Let it go, already.

I really do need to let it go.

I need to let a lot of things go. I need to let go of reactions, emotions, activities or thoughts that don’t honor God. He wants to be our top priority! That’s why we were created. To love him above all things. He wants the details, activities and decisions of our lives to be prioritized around Him – not just our Sunday mornings and major decisions… but our every morning and our every decision. When we look to Him as our desire – our ultimate – our obsession, the rest of life falls into place.

God is El Elyon. This Hebrew term for God can be translated two ways: the Most High God or God Most High. Either way, they mean the same thing: He is to be preeminent in our lives. He is supreme. There is nothing above Him or beyond Him.

God is jealous for us.

He wants us to be obsessed with Him and Him alone.         

God becomes El Elyon to us when our affections for Him and His ways are prioritized above all else. The Lord wants us to be focused worshipers. To have hearts that look to Him and His strength; seeking His face always. (Psalm 105:4) One of my favorite things about the Psalms is that they are honest. Refreshingly so. Like the psalmist, we need to allow God to filter our responses.

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (Psalm 57:2, ESV)

I’m so encouraged by what Scripture says here: when I cry out to God and make Him my ultimate, He fulfills His purpose for me. Yes, please! That’s what I want. His purpose – not mine. We don’t have to try to find our happiness and purpose in other things. When we prioritize God and put Him as God Most High in our lives, He fulfills us in a way that none of these other things can!

All of life needs to be yielded to our Most High God.

How can this be practical in our lives? What does El Elyon mean to your worries? Do you obsess about them? If you compare your fears to El Elyon, the Pinnacle of existence, do they still look so big? What does El Elyon mean to your busy life, your weight loss goals or your desire to please others? Which master leads? Are you more concerned about pleasing man or pleasing God?

This is where the rubber meets the roads.

Where your ping meet your pong.

You must choose what, or who, will be Most High in your life.

Dear Lord, El Elyon, I really want to get this one! Help me to place You above all and before all. Show me what that looks like in the midst of my drama. Help me to yield to You when I want to take control. Be my Everything. In Jesus’s name, amen.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: Spend a moment in prayer about the things that distract you from prioritizing God above all and before all.

FOR YOUR RESPONSE: How does today’s post relate to you? Will you call on God as your ultimate: El Elyon? Leave a comment… I can’t wait to hear from you!

I love this name of God so much that I co-wrote a song about it called El Elyon with my friend, Dave Clark.


Today’s post is adapted from Knowing God by Name by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, & Mary Southerland by permission of Multnomah, division of Random House, Inc. This is the perfect book for individual study or for gathering a group of friends in what we call GiG Groups. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, and free on-line video intros, this book is a resource you’ll refer to time-and-time again.


[i] Obsessed, Breaking Free From the Things That Consume You. ©2012 by Hungry Planet (Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

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About Gwen Smith

Gwen Smith

I am an unashamed, imperfect worshiper of Jesus Christ. I cling to His goodness to cover my mess and purpose my days to live out the hope of the Gospel. It is my joy and passion to inspire women to live fully in grace and truth. I write books, devotions and songs. I speak. I sing. I worship. I post, pin and tweet. I am intensely in love with the Word of God and believe, wholeheartedly, that the Bible is divinely inspired truth.


32 responses to “What’s Your Ultimate?”

  1. Frances Cabrera says:

    Thank you for sharing that being a distracted ping pong person is not out of the ordinary; my mind races with its ups and downs more than I would like it too. But my reassurance knowing I can stop at any time and be still and quite, allowing the Lord to calm my inter being gives me comforts. I can feel instantly the calming affect of His presence and Him whispering to me; “it’s going to be okay, take one step and a time and have faith that you’ll reach the goals I have for you today.” And with that I’m good to go, it’s worrisome and unnerving when my brain scrambles with projects that are unorganized, (especially because I like things to be organized and I like control) and I don’t know where to start, but the Lord does. The sock story is good one to share; now I may have freaked out about this situation too, but today I would have put on different color socks for the day to show my son that it’s okay (of course I would have worn pants that hid my socks, haha, but oh well. thanks again for this devotional, I may be a few days late in reading it, but I see it as the Lord had me read it when I needed it.

  2. Mary Louise Smith says:

    Gwen thank you for your blogs and you songs. It is always on point!!!

  3. Maritza says:

    So can relate! – I’m printing this one. The God Filter – wow. That is what I need to use 24/7; especially before mouth is engaged. This really hit home-thank you my dear. Blessings for you and yours.

  4. Mrs. Pearce says:

    I have a question…I have always had an issue with putting God before my husband. In many ways, it is as if the love for both is the same requirement. I don’t know how to seperate the two. I know that I know that I know 😉 that God is ALWAYS TO BE FIRST. My husband does not expect or even suggest that I choose between he and God but I feel that I am supposed to?? He is a very loyal and wonderful man and I know that I know that I know;) that God ordained us to be together. Any suggestions as to what is going on in me?
    Thank you for listening 🙂 ~Mrs. Pearce

  5. Chelsea Hacker says:

    Your song and devotional came right at the perfect time. Well, actually pretty much any time is a perfect time to be reminded that God is the Most High, however, this week I have decided to start memorizing Psalm 91. I see that many of the promises from this Psalm are referenced in the first verse of your song. What a beautiful way to help me memorize. Secondly, I am probably pinging and ponging more than you. Last night I got out some old test scores to help me in some career choices. What ended up happening is I started worrying about how I did on my 11th grade STAR test. I was so upset that I was average in the 11th grade. What does that have to do with my future, now 18 years later? Absolutely nothing! This is just one of the many reasons I have no business trying to be the Most High. God doesn’t go back in His files and point out where I have fallen short, wasting precious time worrying about the past. It is only in Him that you and I can truly appreciate the present in the absence of our pings and our pongs. Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement and your beautiful song.

  6. AMB says:

    GOD truly is speaking through your devotional this morning. Me and my son are really having a series of hardships lately. In 2014 I had an accident that put me out of work for almost four months without a payment from my insurance company to help with bills and food etc etc..I tried really hard to hold onto our home but unfortunately I lost it. I understand my landlords position that he cared but he’s also a business man so now as of June of this year myself along with my son are homeless we are without any place to call our own. For a little while a friend of my sisters let us stay with him, without a place to call our own GOD still blessed me to have my job but I was severely behind in my car note so in order to try to get to work to make sure I could catch up on my payments for my car a friend of my son would take me back and fourth to work every morning to insure that the bank wouldn’t come and take it while I was working (stupid thinking….I NO!!) well one morning he decided to drive like he was from the cast of fast and the furious…….needless to say I lost my car as well. With a note that I must somehow pay for a car that I no longer have in my possession along with looking for a new place to live &&&& now two storage units that holds all my life’s belongings how am I to make it???? I have a job but not the kind that pays this much to bounce back rapidly. As of recently my sister’s friend has asked us to leave to make room for their family that was coming into town for his birthday, so where do we go from here. WELL….now i’m staying with a friend of mines in one room with my 22 year old son, sleeping in one bed. struggling to eat and shower because of the roaches and flies that hound us on a daily basis. A cat that we are deathly allergic to and my son is a chronic asthmatic, so I do my best to try and keep the cat out the area we are staying but to no prevail he still gets into the room where we sleep and gets on the bed. Daily that I come in I have clean the area we occupy from cat hair and dander just so that we can sleep, some what ok. Why do I tell my story today???? BECAUSE I STILL HAVE MY FAITH IN MY FATHER ABOVE!!!!! He has never failed me EVER!!!!! No I don’t like where he’s brought me but I no there’s something greater he has for me. I understand that this is a test of my faith, will I falter?? At time, yes!! because I’m learning his timing his thinking……..I’m struggling with just hearing him at the moment because all the PING PONG going on in my life in my mind – BUT……….I no he’s with me with every beat of my heart. Today, this morning, I’m struggling to figure out how do I pay for my storage units that are now three months behind in payments. I receive emails daily on how my units are in lien status and are on the auction list to be sold. To think……every single thing that GOD has blessed me within my 44 years, he’s removing!! I don’t think anyone ever understands how embarrassing this is for me. I work hard I love my family I work hard to insure safety and security for my family. I go without so that my family is happy then BAM!!!! with that thought I just want to CRY OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RIGHT HERE AT MY DESK!!!!!!!!!!! GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY!!!!!!!!!!! what am I doing wrong??? did I upset you in someway!!!!!!!!!! through it all I hear his voice saying “LET GO MY CHILD, I HAVE SOMETHING MUCH GREATER FOR YOU” even with hearing this, why is it so hard to obey the one true GOD whom I know will bless me a hundred fold? because I’m still thinking worldly and not GODLY.
    truly yours,
    Ms. A. Brown

  7. A Sister of the Heart says:

    Thank you Gwen

  8. Tiffany says:


  9. Daedonda S says:

    Wow, what an eye opening devotion this beautiful day! I desire to be obsessed with my Most High God! I believe we take for granted that God will always be there and push him to the side as our busy lives fill with family chores, kids, and everyday life. I love the part where you make mention of what others will say, but yet we should only be concerned with what our God thinks of us. I need to remember that he is worthy of all my praise throughout my whole day and not an as needed option. We serve an amazing, powerful God who must have priority in all aspects of our lives.

  10. Tracy Scherer says:

    I get distracted by thought of bill payments, do my children have what they need, did I do the job given (assigned to me) correctly and so on and so on. But here lately I’ve been asking God to direct me and to guide me in the direction in which He wants me to go. I’ve also been letting HIm know that I’m open to whatever He has in store for me and becuase of that it’s amazing to see all the blessing that just keep pouring out and coming my way. I feel beyond blessed and more than overjoyed…my heart is full and excited almost everyday now. But on those days when the joy doesn’t necessarily shine I find myself turning inward which makes me hurt most days. But with God and knowing that I have Him in my heart that pain doesn’t last for very long.
    Thank you Jesus

  11. Angela says:

    I lost my job yesterday and this was on time. GOD is faithful. Thanks ToGoBeTheGlory .

  12. Milicia says:

    Thank you for being obedient and posting His word. On Sunday during prayer time at church, I found myself on the floor. For the first time in my life, I literally could not stand. But it wasn’t physical sickness that led me to my knees, it was the unbearable pain of being “strong”, worrying, and trying to fix it all. Most of my worry stemmed from the energy that I put into preparing my 13-year old daughter for life. I talk, teach, and do so much to ensure that she gets the lessons that God wants her to. Sometimes, these are lessons that actually I want her to learn. On Sunday, God took that worry from me. I realized that I was trying to control so much that goes into my daughter’s mind and spirit that I wasn’t allowing her to learn God for herself. So, I’ve learned to let it go and trust Him completely. I mean, she is his daughter before she is mine, and no one better than Him can teach her (or me) what she needs to learn. So I will honor that relationship that they have with love, understanding, and patience. Everyday, I’ve prayed to be a better parent and for God to reveal himself to her. The irony of it all is that I thought that I needed to do more, when all the time I needed to give up control and give it to Him. He answered me Sunday by telling me to “let it go”.

    Your blog spoke confirmation that yes, this is what I need to do. Thank you.

  13. Linda D. says:

    Hi Gwen,
    Love listening to your songs. In fact I can listen to His word when my husband reads to me in the morning, or in song, or even the recorded Bible, but when I read my mind wanders immediately to a quilting project,getting clothes out of the dryer, unloading the dishwasher or even pkauing a word game, not on what I’m reading! So thanks for your beautiful worship songs! They help me stay in His path. Amen!♡

  14. Stacey says:

    Wow, I can so relate to your post & to a lot of the replies to it. I find myself as a “people pleaser”. I try hard everyday to please those around me, especially my husband & close family. When I don’t succeed, I feel discouraged! My focus is out of whack! If my focus were on God, I would most likely please those around me, because I would be modeling Christ, the most wonderful example, and if I didn’t please them, then I would be ok, because the most important, God would be pleased with me. I’ve longed for a while now to be “obsessed” with God. I’ve tried to carve out my alone time with God. It is a challenge in my house to do that, but sometimes I’m successful other times I’m not. I’ve gotten involved in our church, but I find myself wanting it all to happen a lot faster than it is. I just dont’ feel like I’m getting there. Prayers please, that I can get there!

  15. Janine says:

    This is the first time I visited your website. I really enjoyed it. I can certainly relate to be easily distracted. It happens so much, my husband nicknamed “Squirrel” which is what your referenced. I think many women’s mind work in a similar manner. It’s just part of my make-up. I learned to appreciate it as a way of enjoying so many things at once. 🙂 However, I know that I need to learn to re-focus and find what He really wants me to focus on. I need to learn how to see the big picture and what it truly important,

  16. sumalumadingdong says:

    I have been talking too much and not walking my faith enough. I am praying for the willingness to say nothing – bite my tongue when I’d like to talk about my faith and just let my faith be seen by what I do. Things that keep me from making God my ultimate are seeking approval, and sort of shutting Him down when I’m at work. I’m a new RN and am learning so much; and I confess I don’t let God drive most every day. I pray for it, but then get on my unit and I take over. Soon I recognize the limits of my patience with myself, with others, my strength and endurance, and the absolute absence of the peace I came in with after long quiet time with God.

  17. Susan says:

    At the end of a week of obsessing about every little thing with each child – – I run across your words. It is so easy to become obsessed with the little things, with those things that really won’t matter in five years. It is so easy to lose sight of how amazing people are and what God’s priority is. Definitely a reminder to start and end my day with God. And everything in between will fall into place – maybe not nicely – maybe a roller coaster of an emotional ride – but He is there with us and it will all fall into place.

  18. Any in Frisco says:

    As a mother of a now young adult with all the scary CAPS, I am on a journey of letting go on a daily (sometimes each 1/2 hr) basis. I am trying to surrender to God’s will and bring my thoughts to His promises for my son and for me. Aspergers (now called ASD…as if we needed more caps in our lives) is very misunderstood so I pray daily for kindness and compassion towards my child. Aspergians are superbly gifted with an intelligence that only God is capable of and in his own odd ways (son loves to wear the same clothes VERY often which meant I used to worry about people thinking I did not buy him sufficient clothes!) my son is an example to me of a person who in his inability to understand “drama” and “social agendas” he navigates life completely surrendered and accepting of God’s choices for his life. When I start to worry, my son just says “It’s okay mom” (his conversations amount to 3-words) or when faced with judgmental people, he ignores it and goes about what he was doing, like wearing odd socks…in his case, hot pink!!

    Thank you for your writings, you touch our lives in ways unimaginable. This was my first reading. Wow! Bulls eye!

  19. Laura says:

    Wow you guys all are so alike to me. My mind travels miles a minute. Keeping my prayers focused and not off on those rabbit trails is impossible. I can’t do it. I’ve just recently re discovered my prayer journal. Through the Psalm adventure. And now I’m going through the book this is from. Wonderful getting to know God more. I can’t say I’m there yet with God as Most High. But I’ve journaled most of my prayers and focused on lifting Him up first. Praise. Then my heart fills with songs and thoughts of Him. I still fight with the returning distractions. But God is good. I am learning that those little things and even big things do not matter to God. Lots of my prayers in my journal have been answered. Some in ways I didn’t expect. But it’s freeing and amazing to know that God cares for me in everything. I keep giving over those things I’m worried about to him. I have a long ways to go but God is El Elyon. I have to keep putting him back in that place. Praise God for teaching me to know him more. I’ve always been the kind of person that knows so much about him. Lots of memorized verses and such. But my biggest question was how to get that to go from my head into my heart and be personal.

  20. April says:

    My children wear mismatched socks everyday. But that is how all the kids wear them. So I laughed because it use to drive me nuts. But there are certainly more important things than worrying about what others think. I pray that I am obsessed with God and that my children are as well.

  21. A J says:

    This devotional TOTALLY resonated with me today!! I find myself pushing my time with GOD and GOD Himself further and further back and let things that in the real scheme of things don’t really matter take precedence. Thank you for El Elyon and reminding me that without God Most High and my relationship with Him my life is out of sync. I choose again today to surrender all to HIM!!!

  22. Kish PacenFalife Shedrick says:

    JEHOVAH ELYON is my absolute favorite name for HIM!!!!!!!!!!! This blog totally spoke to me!! I find myself stressing over things that really don’t matter and daily I have to remind myself WHO is in control of it ALL. I want to seek HIM in ALL things… great and small… everyday all day. I will never give in, give up, or give out!!!

  23. Pam says:

    this devotional spoke to me so much more than the ones before. I too am a worrier…a “what iffer” and can honestly worry myself into a state of panic.
    thank you for the insightful writings this morning. I’ve recently (this week) started doing a devotional & came across GIGI site that I look forward to reading every morning before getting ready for work. I’m still learning the ways of the devotional. Today’s has helped me realize that I’m not alone. God is always there with me, I just need to start acting like it.

  24. Mel says:

    I find that sometimes my children are “my god”. I devote some much time and energy into them, that when they disappointment me, I am also a lot of drama. I deal a lot with the “what will people think” syndrome. I appreciated the part where we let it go, and Let God take care of it. He is bigger than my drama!

  25. Mary CC says:

    I loved your devo this morning, but I would love another series about HOW to do that, practically speaking. I mean, like a to-do list. I realize that God relates to everyone differently, but what are some examples of that. HOW do you put God first? What does that look like? I wake up every morning and spend time with God. I try to ask God about most decisions I make – even the small ones. I pray constantly throughout the day. But I don’t feel “obsessed” with God. I don’t feel that he is my EL ELYON. Anyone?? Bueller?? LOL. Seriously, though. What are some practical ways you can put God first.

    • Any in Frisco says:

      Hi Mary! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a manual to find God? Wait! We do! and for what I can read, you are already reading it. I was ery recently on your same shoes, and then I decided to make time for a women’s bible study and joined the BSF group. I am so glad I did! I am sharing and growing in understanding and starting to develop friends in Christ. I needed that so much in my life!
      In my humble opinion, I think you are doing fantastic already. I am sure God’s plan for your life is unfolding and if you focus your attention to the little blessings, your obsession with being obsessed will diminish and give way for God’s mighty entrance!
      I will pray for that today. Know you have a sister in Christ here.

    • Deborah Jackson says:

      Hello Mary, I see one issue you are having. You”try” to ask God about your decisions. I suggest you take a few seconds to stop & listen for direction from God when life throws things at you. As long as we are on the earth, we are bound to make mistakes, but praise God, our mistakes don’t catch him off guard. Just the fact that you want to put God first puts you in line with achieving that goal. He longs for you & desires that time spent with you. Just watch & see, you’ll be caught up in a love affair with him without realizing it. Keep doing what you are doing.

  26. Hannah says:

    I had a boyfriend who didn’t love the Lord. I ended up having to break up with him. He would be perfect for me, but he’s lost. I keep thinking, “If only he’d love the Lord, everything would fall into place.” Anyway, I continually pray for him, but lost he remains, and it’s become pretty distracting. I don’t really know what to do, because I don’t want my concern for him to take priority. This post is really eye opening, it calls for me to check my heart. Thank you.

  27. NMounce says:

    All I can say is “You are not alone”, My mind is the proverbial hamster in the wheel. It seems to be running all the time. I have been working hard on turning it off for some time. I find myself constantly pulling myself back from some rabbit trail I have taken off on in a heartbeat while trying to focus on my intimate conversations with GOD. Anything and everything can distract me, often thoughts within my own mind are the culprits.Sometimes being in a group with a common goal and focus i.e.; bible study, church service, worship or prayer group. I have wondered if there was a physical/psychological explanation such as ADD or ADHD as you suggested. Hoping others reading this may have found some successful means of addressing this distracting problem. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone with this.

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