September 23rd, 2016 § Leave a Comment
So, believing that God was going to do this impossible thing, believing that he would get me to love him, I started to pray each day for a pure heart. A pure heart … meaning a heart not divided into multiple loves. A heart with one master, undivided, whole. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Each morning as I prayed, I sat in that particularly overwhelming brand of doubt. It’s that doubt that comes over me when praying for someone’s healing. I dislike the feeling so much that eventually, I slip into that mindless, rambling prayer. It’s as if a self-preservation instinct kicks in. The subjecting my mind to talking rationally about the impossible eventually becomes too much. If I must, I’ll get in the room with it, but don’t make me wrestle with that beast. I’ll throw stuff at the impossible, averting my eyes, but don’t make me look at that thing.
What do you know of love anyway? A pure heart? A pure heart? Do you even know where your heart is?
Weeks of praying with no signs of movement, so I thought, “If I can’t get more of him in my heart, I can try to get other things out.” What were my idols? For what was I really living? For what do I grieve? Worry? What makes me happy?
My family. My kids. Success. Opinion of others. But if I’m honest, those things, less in and of themselves, but more as they relate to me. It’s me. The conclusion was that the small idols were pieces of a the great big idol — my life. What do I really want? I just want my life to work out. Lame, but it is that for which I’ve worked all along? My life.
Took the fight to two fronts, and was really getting my ass kicked on both.
September 8th, 2016 § Leave a Comment
That’s the thing I learned. Idolatry is a matter of the heart.
As I was coming to this realization, I thought about that wonderful parable about the Kingdom of God found in Matthew 13. “The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his JOY went and sold all he had and bought that field.” For what will I joyfully sell everything I have?
It made me think how different this man in Jesus’ parable was to the young man who approached Jesus seeking eternal life. When he confidently tells of his strict adherence to the Law of Moses, it says that Jesus loves him. He mercifully tells him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” To this, it says the young man went away full of sorrow because he had great possessions.
I wondered, “What in the world did the guy find in the field?”
Then I realized that maybe what he found was what Jesus offers the rich young man, “… come, and follow me.” Maybe the treasure is Jesus.
When it was put to me that way, oh man, I knew the truth. “Lord, I don’t really want you.”
In the past, when reading the story of the rich, young ruler, I thought the key statement was, “How difficult it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God … Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” I know now that there are two weightier statements. The first is that Jesus loved him. The second is Jesus’ response to the astonishment of his disciples, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Mark 10:23-27
I cannot joyfully give up my idols for him. And yet, he loves me. That’s crazy. And because he loves me, what is impossible with me is possible with God. I was convinced that God would stuff that camel through the eye of a needle. I believed that I would treasure him in my heart. Love him above all else.
Right around this time, I began to sense that all this was about joy.