Category Archives: Idol Lies

Arrow Not Shield

“When we think we are in control of the results, rather than called to be obedient as we release the results to God, we will experience guilt, tension, and discouragement”. – Dee Brestin, “Idol Lies”

My main spiritual gift is exhortation.  I’m God’s little cheerleader – the friend that will come alongside you and encourage you to do whatever it is that you need to do, the one who always has the optimistic lookout, the one who will smile while she kicks you in the rear.   I do that unofficially, I’m going to start doing that officially soon (finally found the right people to connect with at church… mentorship program here I come).  I enjoy being who God made me.

But it is VERY easy for me to fall into thinking that I have some control over the outcome.  I don’t!  Even when I’m working with someone hand-in-hand for years at a go, I don’t have control.  When I start believing that I control the results, and that the results have something to do with *me*… well, I get discouraged.  (It’s always the reverse of your best gift that is your worst sin – I’ve swallowed despair’s lies a time or two, to my shame).

I’ve been in a period of mostly short-term missions, where I’ve been learning to open myself up to just bringing a little of God’s light where ever He points me.  And thus He’s taught me to be an arrow.  Fly swift, straight, obedient to His direction. Do what I’m supposed to do, say what I’m told to say, pray and love and embrace and encourage.  God gave me the gift of love – I love easily and naturally.   It makes exhortation easy – I love very nearly everyone, so naturally I want their best.  It’s not like I can help it.  :p

But love makes me protective.  And I am not supposed to protect.  I got hit with that 2×4 today while doing my study.  I’ve been burdened with unforgiveness for someone who hurt someone I love for decades – I kept willing to forgive, doing the work, praying… and finally it broke today.  I was using that unforgiveness, that old hurt, to hold “strong” so that I could protect.   (Pretty sad source of strength, oh well).

But the Lord is her shield.  Not me.  The Lord is MY shield.  And all my loved ones – if they belong to God, they’re shielded by Him.  He never asked me to stand in His place – that’s His job. I need to let go.    He is the avenger of blood, He is justice, He will protect.  Not me.  Never have I been asked to do these things – I wasn’t made for that.  

To be who God called me to be, I need to be able to give my very best and then leave the results to Him.   To open my hands and to trust in the God who loves more than I could ever imagine loving.   I need to keep my eyes open to opportunities to do right – I’m being challenged to really step up in maturity – but I don’t have to carry the weight of the results.  Not my burden.   I’m just an arrow – I have to drop the burdens so that I can fly whereever the Lord chooses to send me.

So… time to fly!

Considering Intimacy

Cleft Rock Girl.

I have to say that this has been the toughest study through Idol Lies yet.  As mentioned before (a long time before) the book is fine, the videos are okay, and the attached study will stop you in your tracks.  I’m getting worked on.  It’s a good thing, I eagerly desire to walk ever closer to God – but there were a lot of tears this week as I tried to get through that study – and God didn’t stop *there*.  He keeps sending me stuff about intimacy, right through to tonight’s church service.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Isaiah 62:5b And as the [f]bridegroom rejoices over the bride,  So your God will rejoice over you.

I can give you chapter and verse about Jesus and the Bride of Christ, the washing of regeneration in the blood of the Lamb that takes our sins as scarlet and turns them into white garments fit for a wedding.  I can go on for *days* if you’d like.   But the word that hit me straight in the nose and left me crying here is “rejoice”.  Delight.  Delight like a groom rejoices in his bride as she walks to him on their wedding day.  Urk.

Then we moved to the Song of Solomon.  The bride is hiding amongst the cleft of the rocks, and the groom calls her out.  Because she is lovely to him.

Song of Solomon 2:14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your form is lovely.

All my heart screams is “there is nothing lovely about *me*.  How could You feel like this about *me*?”  It hurts.  It hurts by revealing a desire so deep you refuse to see it.  And there’s really nothing for it but sobbing.   I was messed up for a couple of days.

And that made me realize that I was hiding a part of myself away.  Like I said in a previous blog, “bracing for impact”.  I am well aware that the mature Christian life is not filled with sunshine and whipped cream.  But bracing for that pain hides part of myself.  When we surrender our hearts, we surrender for full healing as well as the surgery that precedes it.

I’ve spent so much of my Christian life focusing on the surgery, allowing the Surgeon to cut, and have forgotten that the other end of pain is … freedom.  Pleasure.  Joy.  We don’t focus on those much as Good Christians, do we?  But if I’m to become truly childlike in my faith… I need to stop being so pessimistic about the next thing to come down the pike and just enjoy where I am.

And let myself love.  Love is worship, you know?  In church tonight, we were trotting through the gospel of Mark.  Got to this bit:

Mark 14: 3 While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. But Jesus said,“Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.

Mary had to have loved Him to do this.  Not just to give what might have been her dowry – or at least something like a year’s wages – to anoint Him for His death, but to clean His feet with her hair. (See John 11:2).  I know most of you aren’t women with hair long enough to rub someone’s feet with without contortions, but I am.  I would never touch a man I wasn’t married to like that.  It’s not sexual, exactly.  But it is intimate, vulnerable.  She put her heart right out there, for *everyone* to see.  And they went after her.  I’m sure they were shocked.

But Jesus defended her.  It wasn’t that much longer (two days?) until the night in the garden of Gethsemane and the day after on the cross.  If the smell was that strong… do you suppose that smell went with Him?  I’ve never really thought about that before, but do you suppose it might have done?  It was an oil, perfume oil is very strong.  I wear perfume oil in my hair, just a couple of drops will last a day, sometimes more unless I shampoo it out.  I wonder what a jar would do?

What about *us* is lovely?  We know it’s not our attempts at righteousness, because those are filthy rags.  Maybe, it’s the choice to love Him.  The decision.  He *did* give us free will… why?  He is Love, and He is in us and … but we have to choose to let Him in.  I don’t know.  This is bugging me.  I don’t feel lovely, not to Him.  The whole thing is terminally embarrassing – and upsetting.

I feel like that girl in the cleft of the rock.  Asked to come out, to come towards Him, towards greater intimacy with Him, and just as embarrassed about the whole thing as a virgin girl on her wedding night.

Fighting Despair

I have a friend who’s an ex-Catholic, and she introduced me to the concept of the Seven Deadly sins… and that each one of us is most plagued by one of those tendencies to sin.

It’s ironic that someone like myself, whose gift is exhortation, is most tempted to despair.  But ’tis true.  When my plans fail, when my work doesn’t show fruit, I have a tendency to give up.  And the more that the result matters to me, the more likely I am to get despondent when things don’t turn ’round quickly.

Now, I’ve battled through despair once… but the stakes were very high.  I was willing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death for what I battled for.  Other things in life?  Not so much.  They’re important to me, and I feel badly about myself for not making them happen, but worth my last gasp?  No.  Just no.

How can I battle on, when instant gratification isn’t going to happen and giving up is something I’ve done off and on for ages?

My first idea was getting more process oriented.  Instead of thinking about my goal, I need to think about the daily good things I’m doing that contribute to that goal.   Instead of thinking about being thinner, I need to think about the smaller portions and longer walks.  Instead of thinking about how I wish my yard looked, I need to make a daily time to spend in the garden.

That’s not a bad thing – but I need more.   I need positive stuff.  I need to not just think, “my small thing to do for this is x” because then I can despair if I don’t do X every day.  I need a carrot!   I need to find ways to take smaller portions (check) and *splurge* on spending time moving my body.  I need to find things I like about gardening (meaning I need to balance my time weeding with time planting and cutting flowers and harvesting fruit – because I hate weeding).  I need to feel like my daily stuff IS the good stuff, not just the medicine I’m swallowing down in order to *get* to the good stuff.

And that’s how my idol of approval gets a hold of me.  If I can get someone to tell me that my life is going well, then that means that it’s going well.  I don’t need another human to approve of me, what I need to do is submit my smallest actions to God and seek His approval in each day.

Each day, sufficient unto itself… because we don’t know if we’ll have a tomorrow, but we are supposed to do our best with what we have today.  That doesn’t mean I kill myself trying to complete the work today.  That means that I am faithful to *do* the work that’s put before me today, and then leave the result to God.

There’s nothing more difficult for me than to let go of the consequences and faithfully act each day.  No pie-in-the-sky, no cup-of-despair.  Just daily faithfulness and patience and perseverance.

And that is how I shall vanquish despair.

Patience and Wonder

Still working along in the book, “Idol Lies”.  I must say I wasn’t particularly thrilled with chapter two *in the book* – but by the time I got done with the study questions, I had some serious food for thought.   The idol I have identified (this year) to work on is the idol of approval.  

A plan of attack and a plan of defense have shown up…

Plan of attack:  Wait upon the Lord.  All the verses that the study guide had me read talked about the immediacy of sinful desire.  So if I can consciously make choices to *wait* on approval instead of bouncing like a dog in a fake bacon commercial.. that would stave off the sinful aspects of approval-idolatry and let me work on 1) patience and 2) resting in the Lord.  Patience isn’t just a virtue – it’s something I need to have in my every day life.  I could start listing the ways that incorporating patience and not snatching would improve things, but we’d be here all day.

Plan of defense:  Focus on God.  This was in the study, and it’s on the header of my other blog… we are supposed to focus on the lovely things, and we’re supposed to look at God.  Biblically, that’s how we can avoid any amount of sin – put our attention on God.  So, I need to spend more time outside, preferably with time on my hands to just *look*.

Do you ever think about how the modern world works to separate us from a visceral understanding of awe?  All the time we’re plugged into the Matrix, whether our ears or our eyes… and when we’re not plugged into something for pleasure, we’re forced to for work.  Do you enjoy staring at ribbons of concrete when you have to drive somewhere?  Neither do I.  But if I sit and watch the hawks circle overhead for more than a second or two, I’ll find myself in an accident.

I need to be patient and wait upon the Lord, and I need to think about Him while I’m waiting… not just fill up my time with idle entertainment and comfort.

Patience and wonder.  That’s the way.