BY JORDAN MAYER
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
I was listening to a podcast recently that was discussing idolatry and the many ways we attempt to satisfy our souls. The human heart is sadly efficient at crafting idols. As John Calvin puts it, our hearts are idol factories! We may scoff at the golden calves and the statues of old, but we, too, form our own household gods. While they may not be as obvious, at their core they are the same. They are the things that command the attention of our hearts. Money, sex, and power get much of the spotlight in books, but what about the more subtle gods of leisure, convenience, security, balance, or health?
I think one of the tricky things with idols is the fact that they are often really good things! Time away from work to relax and unwind is a good thing! Free two-day shipping is a good thing! Feeling safe and at peace is a good thing! Keeping healthy boundaries between work and personal life is a good thing! Being healthy is a good thing! The problem is not in the thing itself. The problem is when we make a good thing into the main thing.
When this happens, these once good things become bad things. They get twisted and distorted in our attempt to be satisfied by them. Try as we might, we end up frustrated and disappointed. It turns out that these are all extremely poor substitutes for God. They were never designed to fill the God-sized void in our hearts. Instead, they become the itch that we cannot scratch or, as Solomon puts it, vanity of vanities and a striving after wind. If anyone could find pleasure or meaning outside of God, it would have been Solomon. Although he withheld no desire from his eyes, it still could not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).
But, when we place our satisfaction in God himself, these "things of earth" fall into their proper place. Desires are transformed, time is redeemed, and the things we pursue take on an even deeper meaning and value than they ever did before.
There is a wonderfully insightful quote from C.S. Lewis in which he says, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
We mustn't settle for gifts and miss out on the Giver. Rather, we should allow these gifts to draw us to the One who gives them. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
We rejoice in His gifts, but we are satisfied in His presence.