A fun blog that I read asked the question this week, “If you could have any home-related indulgence in or around your house—anything at all—what would it be?” My mind swirled with possibilities. I have always thought my laundry room needed a sink, or maybe I need a full-time gardener, or a second dishwasher, or…, or… You fill in the blanks. The point was she even put the word “need” in quotation marks, realizing it was frivolous. I found myself reading through some of the 11,902 entries—no kidding. The more I read, the more my imagination ran. Dreaming about things. . . I wonder how long I have spent dreaming about the Glory that God has waiting that He yearns to actualize within me. I can answer that without further deliberation. Not very much. The time it took me to write this post is probably the most I’ve thought about it. It somehow does not feel as tangible, as, say, a dishwasher, yet His Word tells us that the reality of this world is but a dim reflection, and heaven will be the true reality. (1 Cor. 13:12)
The passages this week were so good, yet one topic seems to haunt me. And I’m not even doing the study, No Other Gods, like many of you. We have reached a judgment day in our reading. God gives His people many chances to return to Him, and once again, they were found lacking. The Israelites were found to be double minded. Even as they proclaimed with their mouths that He was their God and worshipped Him, they still had lives overloaded with idols which distracted them from authentic worship, from whole, devoted hearts for Him. This should spark great interest among us because our own lives are often so intertwined with distractions, and with half-hearted commitments to Him.
Much of our reading has been about falling victim to idol worship in one way or another. We do not need a golden calf to realize that we have shortchanged our lives and His better way when we fall for anything else but God. Sometimes, we struggle to recognize an idol in our lives. Upon recognition, we might have a sinking feeling of sadness and emptiness. However, rarely when it is revealed as an idol do we understand the glory that we could have known.
Isaiah 2:11 “But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.” This verse stings my heart with loss. I can only imagine right now all the Glory that I exchanged and sold out so cheaply for. Worthless, barren caverns looked more appealing than Glory. I foolishly chose empty cisterns instead of flowing Living Water. And Glory was at stake. He had such a better plan. I have experienced Living Water. I know. Anything (or anyone) else falls hopelessly short. Take heed. Everything that is shiny is not gold. Sometimes, something looks so good to us in our sin-soaked, fallen world. Some object or person casts its enticing spell on us but is nothing in comparison to the blessing and joy we have when we are found in His Will. It becomes so clear why everything is an empty idol but God, if it takes up space in our souls where God could reside. He is so much better.
Now a word about glory: It often seems even more evasive than the possibility of my own personal gardener. William Paul Young (The Shack) explained on “Life Today” this morning, “The truth is [that] from glory to glory He changes you, not from cruddy to glory. And not from glory to ‘glory-er.’ We don’t have this comparison thing inside the kingdom. For God it is all glory. And He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it. (Philippians 1:6, emphasis mine)He is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. This is something that He has come inside to accomplish and there is no shame at any point of the process. From the beginning when the stuff comes to the surface to when it is skimmed off, there is no shame. That is the beauty of the incarnation. That is the beauty of His love—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—that climbs into our stuff with the intention of healing you, knowing everything there is to know about you and He is not ashamed of you at all.” There is nothing evasive about glory. It is the work of His Holy Spirit to finish His magnificent transformation from glory to glory within us.
And somehow, we all chase shadows. We chase them but they are only enticements of the substance without being the substance themselves. Our lives demand an awakening, albeit often a painful one, to realize what are shadows and where reality is found abundant. For what is real is more important to God. D. L. Moody wrote in his personal Bible, ‘If our circumstances find us in God, we shall find God in all our circumstances.'” Like a well-watered tree, when trial comes, we are heat-resistant in our difficult circumstances. Oh that we all may be found in God, with no worries, no distraction of idols, fully trusting Him. Jeremiah 17:7-8 was one of our passages this week. “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
So, let us be found in You, Lord. Nothing holds a candle short of your transformational glory. If there are any shadows or darkness in our lives, may we be found beneath the shadow of Your cross, Lord Jesus. (Excerpt from the beautiful hymn, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” by Elizabeth Clephane.)
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.
We continue our journey from Cover to Cover each week with Bev on Monday mornings. It’s not too late to start your own journey. Be found in Him.