Can comfort be your idol?

seektheefirst

Matthew 10:38-39 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

This summer, I’m attending a small group book study every Tuesday night. We are reading The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. The book is about the parable of the 2 lost sons. I’ve frequently heard this parable preached with the entire focus being on the younger son; however, this book provides insight on how both sons were indeed lost. The book is riveting and I am learning entirely too much. I say too much because after each session I leave wrecked! Wrecked… in a good way though. Wrecked in a “Jesus loves me and is conforming into His image” way. I can go on and on about all the things I am discovering through reading this book, the Bible and through prayer but I’ll spare you…for now. I will just focus on what I learned last night. So during our discussion last night our facilitator brought up the topic of idols. He had a nice power point of various things that can become idols in our life. So as my eyes are scrolling this list, I stop dead in my tracks at comfort. “You know you have a comfort idol if your greatest nightmare is stress/demands.” After reading that, all I could hear were cricket sounds in my head. Like oh boy, I thought I was doing better on the idol front and now I am smacked in the face with a new revelation. I KNEW I was guilty. I sat there, asked questions and pondered this new discovery all night. Let me give you a little more info about me, pretty much everything I do, want and need stems from my own level of comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I will serve, help, assist and encourage others whenever I can. I do know it’s not based on my own strength because if it was left up to me, I will spend my days in serious relaxation. So I know it is the Holy Spirit working inside of me. However, I often times avoid doing hard things; sacrificial things. It’s always easy to do the easy things but I know God is challenging me to do the hard things. Being holy should be my main pursuit. Avoiding things that bring discomfort to your life does not help to glorify God. Being a free-spirit, it’s easy for me to neglect something that requires discipline in place of something that is fun and self-pleasing. Lately, I’ve noticed a huge push for people to become minimalists now. I grew up with humble beginnings so the last thing I want is less. lol I have the means to shop, go out to eat frequently, attend weekly social events and put my son in several activities. I have validated this in my mind because I am always in search of a deal; however, I am still living in excess to ensure my comfort level isn’t disturb. What I lack is the discipline to do the things I should do without focusing on my happiness being the end result. David Platt describes how many Americans have domesticated Jesus into how we want to live our own comfortable lives when he wrote:

A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream. (13, Radical)

How true indeed for many of us and we don’t even realize it?! It can be so subtle that we don’t realize it. We can see this with the surge of prosperity preaching that is taking over the airwaves. We hear this when people focus more on receiving blessings when the mere fact that we are saved and restored to the Father is the greatest gift we could receive. We witness this when believers look down on other believers for not looking the part or deciding to leave everything behind to do mission work. We hear people say, “it doesn’t take all that” when in fact it does take all that. What it takes is for us to live a life striving to be obedient to Jesus and not just when it feels right. It takes us having private time with Him to discover His path for our lives. Sure, we can’t do this on our own and Jesus knew that. He ascended so the Holy Spirit could descend and take up residence in us. We don’t have to rely on our own power to move from our comfort level because the Holy Spirit living in us believers will guide us! How awesome is that! I can’t think of a better blessing. So as I lay my Banana Republic addiction aside and get up from my comfort spot, I will seek Christ’s guidance to continue to wreck my world and make me more like Him.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

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Take a load off

Sisyphean toil

Psalm 55:22, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (NLT)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

The last few days I have felt mentally drained. It seems like a never-ending laundry list of task that I must accomplish. I was starting to get that overwhelming feeling of not holding everything together. My morning devotional was about casting your cares to the Father. After reading it, I decided to write a list of my worries. It started like this: debating on grad school, bills, child-care during the summer, preparing my son for 3rd grade, etc. As I looked at the list, the problems that have been plaguing me seemed small. God whispered to me about writing a similar list but this time about the things I am not worried about. As I started writing about how I feel secure in other areas such as my job, my home stability, my health, my regular meals, my child’s needs, my relationship with Jesus, family life…etc, I realized how the things that truly matter, God has already made provisions.

Sometimes we have to stop and think about the things that really matter. The glass really is half full. God provides soooo much for us but it’s easy to get caught up in the madness and pressures of society. Whether I go to grad school or not, God will still provide. If I have to wait a few weeks before sending Aiden to camp, I know I have loving people in my life that I trust with the safety of my child. If I have to pay small amounts on bills for now, I am blessed abundantly with a job that more than supports me and my child.

Recently, I started to sponsor a child from Compassion International. His name is Godwin and he is from the Togo. We are able to write letters back and forth. Godwin is almost a spitting image of my son. They are the same age and they love soccer, singing, church and reading. My son agreed to do extra chores in order to raise money to ensure we can keep supporting Godwin. I thought it would be a good way to teach selflessness and giving. Well last night we received a letter telling us all about Lome, the town Godwin lives in located in Togo. Only 30% of the children in Lome can go to school. Aiden learned about their community and the hardships they face. As I am trying to instill a sense of gratitude in my child, I see how God is trying to instill a sense of gratitude in me. God always holds up a mirror for me to see myself and that I am a constant work in progress. So I won’t spend this day worried about things I can’t really control right now. Instead I will rest in knowing that I have an omnipresent Father that cares about my needs, whether large or small. I can go to Him with all things and like a good Father does, He will give me what I need according to His perfect will.