Don’t give power to powerless things

We have a little garden plot here are Safe Haven Farm. It isn’t much, and it’s actually much less now than it used to be. But we get some fresh veggies out of it.

When I was younger, we’d eat out of the garden. We had potatoes and carrots and onions. We had everything to make salsa, except the tortilla chips. I loved the results of gardening. What I didn’t like was the work behind getting those results.

In this part of Kansas, our soil is fertile, but it’s filled with clay, which makes digging difficult. And then there are the weeds.

Weeds, weeds, everywhere, from dandelions to cheat grass and everything in between. Weeds make gardening difficult. They sap the nutrients from the fruit-bearing plants, and sometimes they’re difficult to distinguish too.

And even if you can tell the difference between a weed and a real plant, usually their roots are woven together, so you can’t pull one up without killing the other.

I hate weeds. Everyone does. I think that’s one of the reasons they’re part of the original curse (Genesis 3:17). But weeds don’t just affect our gardens. Weeds can affect our lives too. Weeds can be spiritual.

Idolatry is a spiritual weed. Ever thought about that?

When I think about idols and idolatry, I envision mass groups of people in robes bowing down to bronze statues or singing in foreign languages. Like some twisted church service thousands of years in the past when people didn’t know any better.

Maybe in some cases that’s true. Historically some cultures did bow down before forged statues, but you won’t see that kind of idolatry happening in the United States. American idolatry is much more subversive.

Sports. Artists. Politicians. Performers. Your job. Your friends. Your family. Idols can take the shape of even the most innocent relationships. It’s the power you give them over your life that makes them idols.

Those bronze statues people worshiped in ancient times had no power at all, except what the people who bowed down surrendered (Jeremiah 10:5).

We all have idols. Let’s just admit that right now, because it’s true. We all have something or someone in our lives that is fighting to take precedence over God and His plans. The question is who you’re willing to surrender your life to.

An idol is anything that takes the place of God in your life. So to figure out what idols are in your life, you have to ask yourself what role God should be filling.

God is our comforter. He should be the one who helps us manage our stress. Are you turning to something else other than His Word or His promises to calm you down? That’s an idol.

God is our sufficiency. He should be the one who makes us whole. Are you looking to another relationship to complete you? Are you looking to something you can achieve to make you feel worthwhile? That’s an idol.

God is our security. He should be the one who makes us feel safe, who makes us feel loved. Are you looking to what another person makes you feel to sooth your insecurity? Are you looking to your success personally to make you feel safe? That’s an idol.

Your sports team may be a community, but it shouldn’t be the root of your community. Your job may be how God provides for you, but never forget that it is still God who provides. And you may never be happy with the way you look, but you should always remember that God made you the way you are. And God doesn’t make mistakes.

But identifying idols is only one part of this. And it’s the easiest part. Removing idols from your life is difficult, painful work. Not only does it hurt you, but it hurts the people around you.

You have to dig up your life to expose the roots of the problem. So do the people who care about you.

If you’re blessed (like I am), you have people in your life who love you so deeply that they’re willing to experience the pain of uprooting your idols alongside you. No matter how much it hurts them or inconveniences them, they’ll hang in there right beside you. They’ll walk you through the pain and the heartache of realizing how flawed you actually are, and they’ll love you throughout it all.

But how much better would it be if we didn’t let idols put down roots in our lives? Remember, idols only have the power we give them (Jeremiah 10:5). So wouldn’t it be better for everyone if we didn’t give our idols any power at all?

That job you think matters so much? Instead of trusting your finances, how about you try trusting your faith?

That person whose opinion will make or break you? How about you care less about what they think and more about what God says?

That relationship you think you can’t lose? Ask God what He thinks about you and then reevaluate how the people in your life treat you.

Identify what could become an idol before it puts down roots. It’s like pre-treating your garden plot for weeds before you plant. That way you can pull it out before it damages your life and the lives of those around you. (Matthew 13:24-30)

God has give you the power to choose who will control your life. You can either hand that power over to powerless things, or you can give it back to God, who can actually do something with it.

Which do you think is a better idea?

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A rocky path with a light at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Follow your heart?

What does it mean to follow your heart? I’ve started hearing that a lot recently and not just from secular movies and television shows. I expect it from them. But I’ve started hearing it from Christians. Christians have started saying “follow your heart” when faced with a difficult decision. But I’m afraid it’s turned into one of those statements that everybody says but nobody really understands what it means.

In my understanding, following your heart or being true to your heart means that you should make the choice that reflects who you are inside.

Okay. Well there would be nothing wrong with that if our hearts were trustworthy. But they’re not.

A rocky path with a light at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

A rocky path with a light at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 17:9-10.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

The heart is a Western euphemism to refer to the seat of the emotions. The Western world uses the heart to describe the core of a person, who they are, what they’re about, etc. So if you tell someone that they have a kind heart, you’re telling them they are a kind and compassionate person. And if you tell someone to follow their heart, you’re telling them to judge a situation for themselves and make a decision based on what they think is right.

I think I understand what Christians are trying to say when they tell me to follow my heart. They’re telling me to do what I think is best. But I’ll be honest, if I’m involved in a difficult situation, and if going to do what I think is best, it won’t turn out for the best. If I’m going to do what I think is right, the whole situation will all come crashing down on my head. Because on my own I don’t know what’s best. Because on my own I don’t know what’s right.

If I want to know what’s right and what’s best, I need to consult with God. Not my heart. Not my inner self.

And yes, I’m redeemed. So is my heart. But I can’t trust my heart. My heart will tell me that I want something that God has already told me I shouldn’t have. My heart will tell me to react harshly in conflict where God will tell me to be kind and humble. My heart is never satisfied where God calls me to be content.

Christians, we shouldn’t follow our hearts. We follow Christ.

Your heart won’t rest until you’re ruined. And even then, it will still try to keep you down. Our hearts are dangerous, dark things. They can’t be trusted at all.

Does that mean you can’t be who you are? No. Not at all. Who you are isn’t dependent on your heart. Who you are isn’t dependant on your physical body or your actions anyway. Who you are depends on who God made you to be. And no one knows you better than God does, so He won’t guide you to do something that contradicts His plan for you.

If you don’t know what to do in a situation, don’t look deep inside yourself for the answer. You don’t have it. If you don’t know what is right, ask God. If you follow Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside you anyway. He’s right there. So just ask Him what to do. Read Scripture. And if you can’t think of a good Bible story that matches your situation, Google it. And if that doesn’t work, ask a trusted mature Christian friend.

But whatever you do, don’t follow your heart. You’ll end up in deep trouble. You’ll cause more problems than you solve. And in the end, your heart will only dig you a deeper hole to fall into rather than lighting the path for your escape.