For years i’ve activly sought to learn the secret as Paul talked about of being content in every circumstance. I’ve made it one of my most consistent prayers knowning it to be the only place where my soul will find true rest. I’m regularly frustrated at my inability to let go of the idols i’ve carved out for myself to worship. I hate and fear them but at the same time love and cherish them.
I’ve recently been flicking through “The pursuit of God” by A.W Tozer again. I’d definitly recommend reading it (its pretty short too – less than 100 pages!). Here’s a snippet which talks about the blessedness of possessing nothing. Its incredibly insightful and carries much truth, challenging the idols we allow to go unchecked but speaks also of the liberation and freedom we find in worshipping God alone.
Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first perpared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In Genisis account of the creation these are called simply ‘things’. They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy tome come. Within him was God; without a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul.
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Man have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there is in the moral dusk subborn and agressive upsurpers fight among themselves for the first place on the throne.
This is not mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symtoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstorous substitution.
I don’t think we should think too narrowly on what constitutes “things” – seems to be basically anything we hold onto too tightly. Many things compete for “first place on the throne” or our hearts. It may be our material possession, our reputations, a desire for vocational success, our friendships and relationships. What ever our “things” are, whatever idols we struggle with letting go of, God’s desire for us, rooted in love, is that they be exposed and that we be free of them :).