Try This Idol Instead

April 20, 2009

in Everyday Lessons

I’m preparing for a five day series next week and can’t wait to share with you some new insights and motivation for getting ourselves excited about God’s Word.

This week I’ll be re-posting some of my original blog posts.  During my first month (January), there were as many readers all month long as there are now in a SINGLE DAY.  So, for all the newcomers, I thought I’d give you a chance to see some of the original Burning Bushes stuff.

My husband introduced me to Tim Keller. Tim Keller introduced me to  Thomas Chalmers.  And Thomas Chalmers said this: “There is not one personal transformation in which the heart is left without an object of ultimate beauty and joy. The heart’s desire for one particular object can be conquered, but it’s desire to have some object is unconquerable. The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.”

Quotes from Scottish theologians are nice.  Hang them up on your refrigerator, give them a look from time to time, and feel inspired.  But, beyond a quick glance before filling up the milk cup, again, how do they affect my everyday?

With my little girl, it seems the most frequently used word in my English vocabulary is ‘No.’ A little worried that this would be habit forming and most likely send the wrong message, I decided to put the above quote into practice…with parenting.

I held my breath when she reached her hand into the toilet.  I slowly pulled her hand away, shut the lid, and banged on top–‘Look, a drum.  Isn’t that more fun than stirring the toilet soup?‘  When she heads toward the video player, I grab the biggest sticker book I can find and start adhering the best images to myself.  ‘Look, don’t you want to play with these?’  She’s interested in her baby brother and decides to whop him on the head to see what happens next.  ‘That’s so sweet that you want to play with your brother.  Let’s give him lots of hugs and kisses instead (of slapping him around).’

You get the idea.

And for the most part, it works.  Occasionally, there’s the one thing she just can’t do without and no substitute will suffice, but usually, Thomas Chalmers works in my everyday.  In a small way, this little toddler world of displacing idols reminds me of my own.

I want control, I want possessions, I want status, I want beauty.  And in my head, I really just hear a loud, ‘No.’  But this ‘No’ only increases the desire, it seems.  It makes me want to be sly and sneak my hand into the cookie jar when no one’s looking.  Further, the ‘No’ makes me into a virtue police with friends and neighbors and ‘Janes’ at church.  I see other women wanting control or possessions or anything I want…and some of them seem to be getting these things. And, I think to myself, ‘No!’

‘No’ just leaves me bored and empty handed.  I can’t deal with an empty heart.  Something has to be in there.  And, of course, until I finally see the ultimate desire of my heart.  I’ll fill it with one thing after another and still never end up happy.

Until I see Jesus, who gave up control and put himself in the hands of merciless men.  Until I see Jesus, who gave up all his possessions in Heaven and lived with only one garment to call his own.  Until I see Jesus, who was Lord of all Creation and yet gave up his status to become a newborn baby in all its helplessness.  Until I see Jesus, who was altogether lovely and yet allowed himself to suffer in such a way that men hid their faces from him.  I must see that Jesus did all these things to win His own heart’s desire–the forgiveness and acceptance of His sinful brothers and sisters.  Until I see Him clearly, I’ll push and shove and sneak these little indulgences here on earth till I’m stuffed full of the wrong stuff.

And that’s why I’m trying to read Scripture more this year.  If I don’t remember who Jesus is, I just won’t choose Him in my everyday.  I’ll choose my own way…every time.  I can’t dispossess my own heart of all its desires.  I can only expel those desires by looking closely at my Ultimate Desire.

Seriously, who really wants to swish their hand around in the toilet anyway?  (If you skimmed this article and this line makes no sense to you—go back and read paragraph 4)

How do you dispossess your heart of those things which you know are not the BEST for you?  How do you get rid of the legalistic ‘NO’ in your mind and hear God say, ‘Try this instead.’

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