We sat there in those wingback chairs, both wanting to be right. I’d had this beautiful stone on my ring finger for two months. We’d said goodbye to school friends, traveled home to my mom and dad and finally landed in Philadelphia. And somewhere in the midst of the wedding planning, the apartment hunt and the job search, we’d found our way out of engagement bliss and into a good long argument.
I was sure our premarital session would prove my virtue and we could just go back to doing things the right way (mine).
To my surprise, the counselor didn’t choose sides, didn’t even attempt to deal with the petty issues. He said the problem was idolatry.
He tells us how these problems that we argue over are really just signs of idols…the way God reveals that someone besides Christ is on the throne. Idols like control and comfort, pleasure and power, acceptance and recognition.
He tells us about his own idols and tells us how to mock them, to call them out, and remind them that they’re nothing compared to Christ.
In this harvest season, we roll pumpkins up near the front door, cut down the dried corn stalks, store away the seeds from the summer’s flowers, and can’t help but smile at the scarecrows in our neighbor’s yard.
“Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” Jeremiah 10:5
It’s been years since Tim Lane taught us to mock these idols of ours…but it’s here in this harvest season that I see mine more clearly. I see the scare crow next door, the one down the street, and the one in the farmer’s garden a few streets over. And there my idols hang-control, acceptance, and recognition.
I see the hands and feet made of hay, the painted on face, the stick required to keep them upright and I wonder at the way I bow down to such silly gods.
The counselor told me how to interview these idols, these scarecrows we serve…
- Comfort, have you ever made a sacrifice for me?
- Recognition, have you ever loved me when I’m unlovable?
- Acceptance, have you ever prayed for me, given me the help I needed, strengthened me in weakness?
- Comfort, have you ever washed my feet?
- Recognition, have you ever taken punishment on my behalf?
- Acceptance, when have you ever given your life for mine?
I wake wondering what she will think, feel the need to tie everything down in this house for fear that it’s rising up out of my control, find my ego injured when Jason doesn’t notice all I’m bearing these days.
Then I see the scarecrow.
And I know it’s time to start talking to these idols of mine, start asking them if they’ve ever done me any good.
The painted lips remind me that these idols can’t speak. So, I pray for ears to hear Jesus talk instead…to remind me of His acceptance, to assure me of His control, and to help me recognize that a life hidden in Him is the most glorious place to be.
I see birds circling down around my neighbor’s scarecrow and realize that even the crows aren’t afraid of this handmade monster.
And I pray for faith to talk to my own scarecrows this season.