Monday, August 2, 2010

Jeremiah Was Not a Bullfrog

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, all you clans of the house of Israel. This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, 'Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness. . .' The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.” (Jeremiah 2:4-6, 8)

Lately I've been wondering if Jeremiah's prophecy against the children of Israel might also be for me—for us as Christians in North America especially. I don't want to think so. How can it be? We love Jesus; We cry out to Him every day; We want Him to be our only God.

But so did the Israelites. God said, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert.” (Jeremiah 2:2) This describes me. If this prophecy is still in the Bible, and the Bible describes the human condition, and human beings are still human, maybe I need to consider if this book of Jeremiah has something to say to me today.

I often feel lost, spiritually. I feel like the culture around me has absorbed my spirit, has robbed me of my confidence in God's victory over evil, has immobilized me. So much of the time I don't feel on top of my life, free and full of the joy of the Lord. I wonder if the idolatry Jeremiah speaks of might be my affliction as well?

An idol is anything I trust in other than the Lord. What I worship is the thing that captivates me, that occupies most of my thought and my time. It's what I spend the most money on. It's the screen saver, or the desktop background of my mind. Is that, for me, the One True God, the God of Israel, or is it something else?

I'm not sure. It's so easy for me to trust in my own ability or power or inclinations. So hard to relinquish that control, turn it over to God.

What occupies most of my thought and time? These days, it's the computer, and not always the kind of soul searching I'm doing on it at the moment.

What do I spend the most money on? I use money to buy “things” that will make life more comfortable, more interesting—things to distract me from the vague sense that there might be something missing in my life.

Where does my mind wander when the mental demands of living relax a little bit? Usually to the next thing I should be “doing,” which leads to my “to do” list. It's on my desktop, and it lists everything except the most important thing.

The most important thing is spending time with the One True God. Time reading the Bible, not just a verse snatched here and there but a chapter, or even a book now and then without interruption. Time sitting and meditating on what I read. Time quietly listening, in case there's a specific application the Holy Spirit wants to make to my life. It's important that I pray with a focus on the One who is listening instead of on the tangled messes I'm bringing before Him to unravel. I need to take time to be still.

I don't like Jeremiah. I'd rather read the Psalms. Or the Gospels, though even they are sometimes a little unsettling; Jesus sounded a lot like Jeremiah in some places. I really only want to hear things that make me comfortable. But Jeremiah was not a bullfrog. He was a bull horn. He shouted God's message loud and clear. I think I need to listen, whether I want to or not.

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