I was shopping this week in a jewellery store, buying a special something for our little lady who is turning 5 in a few weeks. As I looked at all the jewellery glittering under the lights, I realised how attractive things can look to us. Whether it is jewellery in display cabinets glittering under the lights, a delectable dessert promising an escape in just a bite, or a magazine cover promising we can learn the 7 secrets to- lose weight, age gracefully, earn the big bucks, snag a man… the list goes on.
In Acts 17, as Paul stood in the Athenian marketplace, he was surrounded by a population worshipping idols.
“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons and in the marketplace ever day with those who happened to be there…” Acts 17:16-17
Here, Paul saw idol worship in its carved forms. I wonder though, what Paul would see if he walked around our marketplace, our town, our home? But the thing that really challenges me, is that God is looking. He does see. He looks to my heart and sees the things that I am placing in front of Him. He sees the excuses that come to my mind and heart as to why I need what I want, why I spend my time the way I do, why my heart is constantly being lured away.
We are currently teaching our littlest lady how to eat solids- as her eating increases, her feeds are gradually reduced. In this weaning process, I question whether she is getting enough food; she struggles too as she adjusts. Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs wrote so eloquently of this struggle and likened it to the struggle we have between the lure of the world and the competition with our desires that are never far from home,
“So, when God would wean you from some outward comforts in this world, oh, how fretting and discontented you are! Children will not sleep themselves nor let their mothers sleep when they are weaning; and so, when God would wean us from the world, and we fret, vex, and murmur, this is a childish spirit.” [Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth), pp.18-19.
And I see clearly, how this separation from the world, from the things that dazzle and tempt, isn’t comfortable. I see how a call to holiness provides discomfort. But just as solids are for my daughter’s good, so too, God weaning me from the world is for my good. While I fuss and grizzle and the excuses come quick and fast, I know this struggle raging within the desires of my heart is one where God is at work. As our Pastor today asked our church, “How deep is the hold that the world has on you?” I was convicted- it creeps in so slowly that I almost don’t notice it. God faithfully does though and in his grace and mercy he shows it to us.
This week, as you grapple with any desires that are competing, that in and of itself may not be ungodly, but when thought about so much, prized so highly or taking your eyes of Jesus, may you know the richness of his grace, even in the midst of the weaning process. Praising God that one day we will be free from it all!