Thursday, 1 August 2013

What is under your tent?

What are you willing to sacrifice for? Where do you go first when you're in need? What makes you jealous? What do you think/talk about most? What can't you give up? 

This is your idol. 

Where to Find Fulfillment?

When I took my trip to Britain I had all kinds of expectations, many of which were met. I had amazing experiences that took my breath away and made me giddy with happiness. Nevertheless. After only a few hours I had the terrible realization that something wasn't quite complete. As I went through the rest of my trip I grew familiar with the sensation that I couldn't fully appreciate whatever it was that I was seeing (the Parthenon Marbles, the unique copy of Beowulf, the real-life Pemberley, etc.). I did think them magnificent, but at the same time there was a nagging feeling that I couldn't get as much enjoyment out of them as I thought I should. Have you ever had that feeling when seeing something you expected to be impressed by?

Buried Treasure by Evil Cheese Scientist
Buried Treasure, a photo by Evil Cheese Scientist on Flickr.

Under the Ban

While at Capernwray Bible School I heard a message from a man named Peter Reid about the Israelite's defeat at Ai in Joshua chapter 7. To be honest, this isn't a Bible story that we hear very often (not quite as dramatic as Noah and the Ark or exciting as the lion's den). But the message hit me right between the eyes.

Before Jericho was destroyed, God commanded His people to take no spoils for themselves but to dedicate them to Him. This wasn't being petty or selfish, it was setting aside the "firstfruits" of battle for His glory. These things were put "under the ban" to establish who was responsible for bringing Israel into Canaan. After Jericho they were allowed to keep 100% of the spoils. What a great deal!

But Achan became impatient.

This man coveted "a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight." He hid them under his tent. These things that God had claimed for his own, these things which were under the ban, became his idols.

My Idols

An idol is anything that you love more than God. It might not look like sin, but if it's a product of lust and not trust then that's exactly what it is

Those questions above, how would you answer them? For me during school it was a certain relationship. In general I am fine with the single girl's life. I love my independence and don't really fancy a boyfriend, or husband or anything like that. But every now and know how it goes. You see people splitting off into couples, you start to feel left out, you get lonely, and then you ask God why you don't have that

Maybe it's something different for you—the freedom to travel, enough money to buy what you want, a less dysfunctional family, more friends—and you're even willing to sin to get it. You covet what is under the ban, and you've got something sparkly under your tent.

The Secret of Fulfillment

I have discovered the secret. It's not something you've never heard before, in fact I can almost guarantee that you know exactly what I'm going to write. However, application is a whole different ballgame. James 1:17, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." God gives good things, and without him no good thing is good (tweetable, eh?). He has been telling me to concentrate wholly on Him. I can't get the most out of life if I'm longing for this thing or that person—I've got to be 100% committed to Him or none of that is going to satisfy me.

If I'm seeking fulfillment and happiness in anything but Christ—whether it be a feeling, an experience, a person, an item—then I am coveting something under the ban, and it will never, ever, ever work.

Speaking from personal experience, I know that it is only when I give thanks to God for the good things around me that I truly appreciate them. I was feeling discontented with my trip to Britain because I felt that it should be that important. I longed for a special relationship because I thought it would be that good. Only when I stepped back and realized that I was searching for joy and satisfaction in something apart from my Heavenly Father could I understand why they didn't fill the hole in my heart. When I stop holding the people and experiences in my life to such a high standard and instead concentrate solely on God, I actually appreciate the other things much more.

What About You?

Are you focusing on something thinking it will bring you pleasure, and growing impatient instead of trusting God to give you good things? Having true faith means that Jesus is sufficient for you, and you operate out of trust, not lust. Listen to what A.W. Tozer had to say about this:
When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.
"...(H)e who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). When you seek the Kingdom first, you get the rest of the world thrown in.

Here is A.W. Tozer's prayer, one that would be good for us to repeat:

"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long."

More than Enough

Last but not least, here is a song that perfectly encapsulates what I've been learning and writing about. Let these words from "Enough" by Christ Tomlin sink in and repeat in your mind throughout the day:

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love

And all I have in You is more than enough....

1 comment:

  1. The future of civilization is dependent upon technology, not nostalgia.


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