Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. . . (Psalm 37:3-7)
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destry; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (Jesus, in John 10:9-10)
I hate when people tell me what's wrong with my life but don't tell me how to fix it. Yesterday I talked about what was wrong. Today I want to suggest a way to fix it. It may not be difficult. Most of our idols, at least as Christians, are not intrisically bad things. They're just good things in the wrong place.
“God gives us, richly, all things to enjoy.” This is a glorious truth we can embrace wholeheartedly. We can embrace His gifts as well. We just have to make sure we don't squeeze too tightly, and, even more importantly, we have to remember where the gifts come from. Repenting from idolatry may be as simple as rearranging our priorities. We need to make sure the gifts come below the Giver in the hierarchy that governs our lives.
Too often, in our lives as broken human beings, the gift slips into the place of the Giver. The means to joy becomes the end instead of just a stepping stone to the real destination. Jesus is the “end” of all true joy—the apex, the final resting place. That's why, when our focus slips down to the gift, we live with the vague uneasiness that something is wrong. It is wrong. It's not the gift that's wrong, it's just that the gift is out of place.
When I spend time on my computer, it needs to be for the right purpose. When Jesus is looking over my shoulder, participating in my activity, it's holy, whether it's writing a blog post, or editing my novel, or playing Spider Solitaire. But when any of those activities becomes the focus, rather than the presence of Jesus in them, they become idols.
Does the presence of Jesus always have to be conscious? I don't think so. But I find when I stray too far from that conscious awareness, I begin to feel antsy. That's when my life seems formless and void. It's then I need to take some time to be still before Him.
It happens at least once a day for me.
Life worshipping the One True God is gloriously exciting. When He fills my vision, I am on top of the world. It doesn't take much to give me that joy, but it also doesn't take much to spoil it.
My prayer is that I will be so sensitive to His presence in my life, and so eager for His blessing, that I can't stray a millimeter away without recognizing the presence of a thief in the sheepfold.