when i'm coming home at night i typically cross the street at the top of my street, turn into my street, walk past the two driveways before my own, then up my drive and footpath to my front door. before i get to the first driveway, i'm usually distracted by something shiny on the ground.
it's an old piece of tar or chewing gum or something similar, something that has been stuck to the footpath for some time, worn flat with the passage of time and pedestrians. it has a dull sheen to it which, glinting in the light from the shops behind me, makes it look like a dollar coin.
i know it's not a dollar coin. i know a dollar coin is hardly worth bending down to pick up (but a dollar's a dollar and enough of them makes you a millionaire, i suppose). i know it's just something stuck to the ground. but i check it anyway, because in my heart of hearts i hope it's a dollar.
and here's the awful truth people: i want something for nothing. i want free comfort. i want contentment without investment. i want things my way and i want them that way now and i don't want to have to wait.
now here's the amazing truth: i know that i'm wrong. it's a crock, a big crock of kobold droppings. because there is no comfort, there is no contentment - i can't have things my way and it's probably for the best.
idolatry is where people put something in the place of God in their lives. it's the thing that keeps you going, that makes you say when the rest of the world is crashing down around you, "well, at least i have that". here's a few:
* "i still have my health"
* "another $10,000 a year would be fine"
* "once the house is paid off it'll get better"
* "i've worked all year and i deserve a break"
* "it's wafer thin, monsieur!"
most of them don't sound so bad, i think, and in and of themselves i think some of them are just fine. some of them are actually good. (despite my low esteem of my own body, i think it's important to make some effort towards being healthy!) still, none of them are the best thing to have uppermost in our mind.
God is who we should have uppermost in our mind. consider:
* "so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." [1 cor 10:31, esv]
* "and he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God..." [acts 17:26,27, esv]
* "the Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom i take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." [ps 18:2, esv]
* "when i look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" [ps 8:3,4, esv]
* "i say to the Lord, 'you are my Lord; i have no good apart from you.'" [ps 16:2, esv]
* "so i became great and surpassed all who were before me in jerusalem. also my wisdom remained with me. and whatever my eyes desired i did not keep from them. i kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. then i considered all that my hands had done and the toil i had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." [eccl 2:9-11, esv]
worshipping God is what we are made for; it is its own blessing; all else is a chasing after the wind...
i was thinking this evening that repentance is much easier on the knees than on the heart, because bruises on the knees fade, but scars on the heart cut much deeper. we pray to God in repentance, asking his forgiveness for our inability to put him first in our minds, and thirty seconds later we're thinking while we're praying about which movie we're going to see tonight, or the aftershave of the man behind you that's slapping you about the nose, or the book in your bag you'd rather be reading than your Bible... and if we catch ourselves, we repent again and get back to the job at hand.
for me, i desire to live simply, to have a wife and family. i don't think we need to own a house and i don't think we need to have high-powered, high-paying careers. they might make some things in life easier or give us a greater feeling of security and they might enable us to give more to ministry work or missionary work. in and of themselves, they are good things. a friend of mine, though, has a saying: good is the enemy of best.
my idols are good, but God is best. i keep forgetting that, and i hope that i will continue to have people around me and God's Spirit within me to remind me of that.