I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”…Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:2, 4-8
So, the boulder on my chest, the internal pressing and smashing feeling of my will and heart, has very much to do with the identification of idols. This is something Christians talk about a lot, it seems. Idols. Cast out your idols. Lay down your idols. Get rid of your idols. After all, God told us we are to have no other gods before Him. Oh, but I do. Really, most of us kind of know we do, but they seem more like harmless hobbies than life threatening (to us) opponents of our Heavenly Father.
This may be the lamest example I’ve ever written, but probably not. I was watching Alvin and the Chipmunks yesterday afternoon with Ellie and Chad and here is the basic, simple story line. Alvin, Simon and Theodore somehow come to live with Dave (we missed the first part of the movie) and sing a song that he writes. (Christmas, Christmas Time is Near) Dave’s friend, played by David Cross, is a music producer who not only gets the song played on the radio but becomes their biggest promoter. This, of course, is because he is the classic one-dimensional bad guy who is motivated by pure greed. Dave treats the chipmunks much like his own children, disciplining them and limiting their performances because, after all, they are just kids. David Cross takes advantage of the tension between the chipmunks and Dave and offers them toys and a new home with no rules and a lifestyle of rock stars who never have to clean up after themselves, etc. He then practically works them to death, exploiting them beyond recognition, until they realize he doesn’t care about them at all and certainly not the way Dave protects and loves them.
So, in this example, I am the chipmunk so hungry for what I don’t think I already have because I am not genuinely satisfied with God alone. Am I saying that He is not satisfying enough, that He is not “more than enough”? No, I know factually that He is the author and giver of life. I know theologically that every good gift, in every shape and form, comes from Him. I know that everything that has been made was created by Him and for Him. I know that no door can be shut that He opens and no door can opened that He shuts. He sets up kings and deposes them. He tells the waves this far you can come and no further. Yet, knowledge of Him does not satisfy my heart with Him. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Psalm 119:36-38 I need for God to turn my heart to Him. I need for God to turn my eyes and fix my gaze on Him. I need for God to fill my heart with the fear and wonder of Him alone. I am uncomfortable here and energized there, paralyzed with fear now and ready to fight to the death then, high and low and high and low, because I am looking to the left and right for my well being and stability rather than always filled by and tucked into Him who never changes. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. Mark 9:15
I want this kind of wonder. I want this kind of single focus, not to ignore the needs and responsibilities around me but to trust that He will take care of them. The unfinished tasks, the seemingly impossible relationships, the painful suffering of others that I am helpless to alleviate, and the unknown “next step” do not condemn me in His presence because they are not my weight to bear. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Is. 58:11
In a sun-scorched land He satisfies my soul as one well-watered. He is the living water that never dries up. He never fails. Whom then shall I fear? What verdict of despair and doom can override His promise of restoration, celebration and glory? Which of my endless desires apart from God can fill me with life and overflow such generous love to others outside of myself? The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
The fact that God does hold me in His hand does not mean that my heart has held to Him alone. He has not been my light and salvation because, like Israel, I am constantly reaching for another. In this case, I fear everyone and everything. Like Psalm 16, I am the one who runs after other gods and suffer for it. But again, and again, and again, He gives me more grace. He pursues me, gently calls me out from hiding before the tree wearing my ridiculous fig leave outfit, removes those scratchy leaves not to shame me but to cover me in the robes of His Son Jesus. Oh Love that will not let me go indeed! Thank you for not leaving me to lay down my idols by my own failing strength and weak will. Thank you that you will uncurl my fingers, you will lift the boulder of imprisonment to these smooth talking false gods and you, like Dave and his little chipmunks, will rescue me and restore me to life that I may live in You and for You rather than myself. Oh please satisfy me with You in such a way that I would not be so easily deceived and that I may be utterly unsatisfied by any other.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:21-26
May it be so.