There are times I read the Bible, especially the Old Testament & its histories of the Israelites, & I just get so frustrated with them. They witnessed God do miracle after miracle for their sakes & yet they continued to forget Him & turn away to other gods they had created with their own hands. He even warned them in advance in Deuteronomy 13- if they kept His commands & followed after His heart they would be blessed as He would have His hand of protection over them. He also warned them, if they turned from Him & back to their old ways, back to other gods, that He would have no choice but to remove His hand of protection because they would be sinning against Him. Despite those warnings, they continued to turn to worthless gods & do horrible things. Chapter after chapter is filled with descriptions of people & leaders who did evil or “more evil” than their fathers in the sight of God. I get so frustrated that they didn’t see how their selfishness & idolatry was so stupid in light of everything God did & was willing to do for them…
But then, like a flash of light or a hit over the head, I realize I am just like them. One moment I’m following after God & the next I’m building up myself in my heart, praising my own accomplishments, & seeking after my own dreams & purpose even though it defies God’s plans for me. No, I may not be building golden calves or sacrificing my children to inanimate, worthless gods, but I am worshipping myself & the security I have in finances & health. It’s so easy to do that if I’m not careful; I get so easily distracted. If I’m not careful, I am just one shift-of-heart away from falling into self-idolatry or financial-idolatry.
We are so bombarded in our society with these ideas- that it’s okay to satisfy & “feed” our “self,” to make our “self” happy no matter the cost or the action. We can so easily look around our lives, compare the things we have to what others don’t & suddenly feel so smug & content in ourselves & our things. If we, & really I’m speaking more about myself, are not careful we become just like the Israelites- stubborn & forgetful of what He has already done & who He really is. And when we get there, He will do what it takes to move our focus back to Him, even if it means stripping away the distractions, even if it painful, He will do what He must in order to restore His beloved children to Him. And the only reason it would be painful for us is if our hearts are already so attached to the things we’re worshipping instead of God.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one & love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one & despise the other. You cannot serve God & mammon.” – Matthew 6:24
If I am to be honest with you, this is where I am today. I have allowed my attitude & heart to become one that is stubborn, self-important, & glorifying of my own accomplishments. Honestly, the temptation of pride will probably be something I constantly have to battle, but God is reminding me of Who I truly must rely on. That He is the only thing, the only One who will always endure. If I rely on my health to keep me going but it fails, I have nothing. If I rely on my finances & then life happens (like major car repairs & unexpected medical expenses) then I will be insecure. If I rely on my accomplishments for happiness & purpose but then fail, then I am worthless. If I rely on my feelings to motivate me then they change, I will have nothing to purpose me forward. But…if I constantly remember & turn to Christ for my everything, then when my health fails, it’s okay because it is still well with my soul. Whether my finances are established or used up, it’s okay because my soul is secure in Him, the One who always provides. Whether I fail or succeed, it’s okay because my worth is established as priceless by the One who died to save me. When my emotions fail & overwhelm me, it’s okay because my happiness may be temporary but my joy & peace beyond understanding is eternal in Him, His love & salvation.
Come what may, whatever it takes, despite how terrifying it is to say that. I am learning (even if I have to learn it over & over) that God is my all & my everything. If I am not using the things He has given me for His glory, then really, what is the point? If my heart is like the man in Jesus’ parable who built the many storehouses, shared with no one, & then died without leaving any impact on those around him or the generations to come, then really, what is the point?
If what it takes is painfully breaking my heart which is just like Israel’s, then so be it. As I have said previously, I want to live my life well, in such a way that it changes hearts for the sake of the Lord, in such as way that lives are changed for the better, & in such a way that I will be allowed to hear the treasured words, “well done.” So, if breaking my heart to correct it is what it takes, then so be it, for no matter what, it is well with my soul.
“In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the works of his hands; He will not respect what his fingers have made, nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.” – Isaiah 17:7 & 8
What lessons do you feel like God is teaching you, or lessons you feel you struggle with?
Be blessed, friends.