It’s happening again - the same way it happens every year. Christmas chaos. As much as I purpose in my heart to “quietly adore Him,” the busyness and hectic schedule of the season seem to creep in and crowd out the sacred. Why, LORD, do I so easily fall into this trap?
Reading Ezekiel the other day, God painted a pretty eye-opening picture. While under Babylonian captivity, Israelite leaders gathered to hear from the prophet Ezekiel. God told Ezekiel, in the way He so candidly does, that these men had filled their hearts with dung causing them to fall into sin (Ezekiel 14:3, NLT). Yeesh! The New Living Bible actually translated “dung" into “idols,” but the picture left its mark! So, how about us? Is the sacred crowded out by "dung" in our lives?
This story reminded me of a similar idol situation in Joshua. The Israelites had just seen the walls of Jericho fall – a great and glorious victory. Achan, however, made himself “liable for destruction” by ignoring God’s instructions, taking loot from the Jericho rubble, and hiding it in his tent (Joshua 6:18, 7:12, NIV). Soon after, the Israelites reeled in disbelief when they lost a small battle with Ai. Joshua despaired at the loss and cried out to God. God answered Joshua saying it was because of disobedience. In fact, His response sounds quite indignant: “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant!” (Joshua 7:10-11a, NLT)
Sober conviction set in as I realized the answer to my question. In fact, the answer seems quite obvious now. Yes, our hearts are filled with refuse. We make ourselves liable for destruction when we do things and hold on to practices that we know are wrong. We hear the still small voice saying “don’t watch that” or “get up and spend some time with Me,” but we ignore it. How silly that we pass judgment on the Israelites’ mistakes. Here we go again, mindlessly following in their fearful footsteps. How fortunate, though, that Jesus saves us from our folly if we only allow Him to.
During this holiday season, let us purpose in our minds to set aside sacred time for quiet intimate moments with our Maker. The Holy Spirit can still the chaos and “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
O God, cleanse our hearts. Help us recognize the worldly idols that distract us
from worship. Remind us who you are - Savior. Remind us who we are – loved and blessed. Remind us to love our neighbor and to spend time seeking you. As we wait on you, prepare us for communion with you. We thank you, Heavenly Father, for good gifts and for renewed strength.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation
Holy Bible, New International Version
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," Helen Lemmel, 1922
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.