"What must I have for life to be meaningful or happy?" Elyse Fitzpatrick poses this question in the first chapter of her book, Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone. The ladies group from church met last night to discuss Chapter 1. How timely this book is for the current condition of my heart. Though my momentary idols are not that of material comfort or notable prestige, they are those that clamor for my heart's affections in more subtle ways. Could it be that my desire for an easy, well-rested, quiet, burden-free, unemotionally-taxing life has rivaled my love for my Father, however costly? Would I rather have a simple life of "collecting seashells" than one that is bruised and broken serving on the battlefield? My heart says no, but my actions often say otherwise.
"If you're willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don't get what you want, then your desire has taken God's place and you're functioning as an idolater," Elyse continues later in the chapter. My sinful actions are not usually manifest in some immoral behavior or burst of outrage; instead, the deception lurks around the corners of discontentment, hopelessness, anxiety, fear, lack of faith. Feelings based on flesh, not obedience. The battlefield is His, not mine; my resources will never be sufficient for the task. It all comes from Him, and is to Him. "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumlate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:3-5) This does not sound like collecting seashells or flowery beds of ease does it?
Am I A Soldier Of the Cross by Isaac Watts
Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb, And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war Shall conquer, though they die; They see the triumph from afar, By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise, And all Thy armies shine In robes of victory through the skies, The glory shall be Thine.