05 November 2008

Bitter water

Our pastor has been preaching from Habakkuk the past few months, and so we've been discussing the passages in our community group on Monday nights. Both this week and last have focused on idolatry and how it manifests itself in our lives.

Most of us in our culture are not bowing down to carved statues, but I would posit that all of us are idolaters in one way or another. We are God's image bearers, and we are made to worship. If we don't worship the one true God, we will QUICKLY find something else to worship. Our pastor has made a point of saying how close idolatry is to the human heart, how quickly we will turn a good thing into an ultimate thing.

As we discussed this in our group, we learned that a good test of a good thing that may have become an idol is to examine what makes us angry. When our idols are threatened, we may respond in anger or defensiveness. With this as a litmus test, I think that some of my idols are control, perfectly obedient children, peace and a smooth schedule. Notice how all of those things are essentially good things! But my sinful heart wants to worship these things more than I naturally want to worship God. And I want to find my identity in them. So when they are threatened, I react in anger, anxiety and despair, because it is as if my very identity is as stake.

Something that I am praying for God to change in me is my reaction when things don't go my way. As a mom, things do not go as planned quite often. Much of how the family runs depends on me, but let's not forget that there are six distinct personalities in this house. So sometimes things don't run exactly as I plan. Tantrums happen, people don't get up on time, spills happen, things break, shoes disappear. You know what I'm talking about. I call this thwarting. I am thwarted at every turn. I have MY plan, and I constantly run into thwarting.

We were laughing about this thwarting in community group, but it points to a serious problem. The problem is that I am so reluctant to accept God's will for me, and I act like an orphan when things don't go my way. I have my own tantrum when I am thwarted, forgetting that I am a DAUGHTER OF THE KING and that He is looking out for me. He has things to teach me and things He wants to change in me AND He wants to take care of me (not necessarily make me comfortable).

This quote from Amy Carmichael (19th c. missionary to India) has haunted me for years. It's from her tiny book entitled If.

"If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted."

Sit in that for a while. Do you think it's too much? I don't. I think she has an amazing point.

O Lord, I am more often filled with bitter water and it all comes spilling out. Please fill me with sweet water, so that when I spill over, it is not in wrath and anger, but with acceptance and joy. You know what is best, and I don't.

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