You know that feeling you get when the Lord opens your eyes to things that you sorta wish you could have stayed blinded to? Well, I have it right now and at the risk of bearing even more of my weaknesses as a human being, I felt like I needed to share some things that the Lord is currently teaching me…not because I really want to, but because writing helps me to process things and as long as I am writing it down, I might as well help someone else. So if you are that someone, who like me has been looking for peace, here are my flawed jabberings on the subject.
For years I have wondered why I could not seem to “curb” or get rid of certain habits in my life… not just one, but several things I feel have often jumped on a pedestal and become my god in certain seasons. The more I fought against these habits, the more they seemed to control me, the more guilty I felt, and the more I felt that I should just “give up” and let them rule. After all they were just little things… surely God Himself must need a good dose of chocolate on some days.
No, I am not talking about big things here… I’m talking about the small things… the sleeping in that slowly turns itself into laziness… the television viewing that is never satisfied with to “watch just one”… the sugar cravings that before you know if have consumed the whole batch…the shopping habit that takes you into the store for “one thing” and brings you out with 3 bags.
See, there are no little idols… idols forever and always seek to become bigger. An idol’s scream at you is “MORE” and not just more, but “MORE NOW”. Any time you feel this inside yourself, you are most likely dealing with an idol. Sometimes they are really hard to uncover because they hide as perfectly good gifts from a loving God who gives us all things to enjoy. Some even hide as things that are easily passed over as “ridiculous” or something that “all your Christian friends do”. Only deep in your heart do you know that your day is not complete unless you have them… that it feels like there is not much to live for if you have to forego them…that any day they are missing is a “let’s get this day over with” day. You don’t know when or how, but these “small pleasures” have at some point become crucial to the outcome of your day… they are your refuge…your rest… your hiding place… your peace… and they do a bang up job for a good hour or so before you need something else or something more. Wait… “refuge”, “hiding place”, “rest”, “peace”… just other words for “god”, right?… Yes, they become your god. They sit on the throne of your life and say “You can’t live without us. Don’t even try. We are in charge.”
These are the idols that I am talking about here and the idols that I have wrestled with continually, always wondering why I could not conquer them. Stupid things that I actually have chosen over obedience to Christ at times because… because.. because… This is where the Father stopped me this time on the merry go around. I had been fighting and focusing on the symptoms and I had no idea what I was really missing…what spot was I really trying to fill. It hit me the other day and it has changed my perspective. Not only has it changed my perspective, but it has given me ammunition against the enemy, because I now recognize who the enemy is. My search really has nothing to do with TV or sugar or sleep or coffee…often I would forego these things to purposely try to destroy them and just find myself building some other cow over in the corner to replace them. No, my search is for PEACE. I want a break from the struggle, a breather in the middle of the chaos, a lull in the overwhelming storm. This isn’t a wrong desire and it is not something that needs to change, but it IS the root of the problem in that I often pursue the wrong solution for the right problem. Of course, we all need rest, we all need a break, there is nothing wrong here except that where we turn when we find ourselves exhausted, overwhelmed, and done has a lot to do with whether we will be fully refreshed and ready to go on afterwards or distracted, frustrated, and looking for more.
Understanding that idol-making is often a search for peace made me realize that I have a choice to make. Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives…” The world comes up with a myriad of pleasures that promise peace… they promise that if you just buy this car, or find a way to look younger, or watch reality TV, that you will find peace. Yet these promises fall flat EVERY. TIME. With every new thing that we acquire or spend our time on or sink our teeth into we may find some kind of temporary peace, but Jesus didn’t die so that you could live on temporary peace. He went to that cross so your peace would be permanent. So it would be everlasting. He stands at the door of your heart and says “Child, if you would just give me all those little things that you are using to prop yourself up, I will exchange them for my peace.”
So the question has been presented to me (and by osmosis to you) “Are you willing to take Me at My Word? Do you believe it’s true? You say you believe its true, but you live grasping lies trying to mold them into your own tangible god that you think you can control? Are you willing to let go of your worldly peace so that you can experience Mine? Do you trust me?” Because I really believe that until we knock down the idols…every single one… we cannot experience the true peace of God that guards our hearts and minds… we have replacement guards on duty. Do we trust God enough to take Him at His Word and believe that if we let go of the things we hold dear that He is more than able to fill those empty places with His peace? Can we place all those things into His Hands…even the good and glorious things…and entrust Him to give them back as gifts when He sees fit. Of course it isn’t easy and it is probably even a process and it will undoubtedly look different in every person, but if we are going to pursue peace it start here, friends. It starts with turning away from all other gods and looking full in His wonderful face. It starts with saying, “No, chocolate chip cookie, I will not eat you… you cannot offer me the kind of peace that I am really searching for.” and then seeking after the One who can. You think I’m kidding… but I’m serious.
“Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14
Note: I do not want to leave any impression that I think we should give up everything that we love because it may be an idol. You have to determine between you and the Lord what things in your life are an issue. These may be things that you do not have to shun for all of eternity…they may be perfectly good gifts from the Lord that just need to be put back in their proper place under HIS authority. Try offering these things back up to Him and letting Him give them back to you as He sees fit… as long as you can receive His gifts with thanksgiving to Him and an “open hand” they are not an idol in your life. It is when we are consistently seeking, pursuing, and grasping at these things and then keeping them away from God’s reach that they transition to “idolhood”. Condemnation does not work in idol destruction (I should know)… peace pursuing does because what you are really searching for is something SO MUCH BETTER than what you are actually getting from your idols. At least this is what I am in the process of learning right now.