Breaking the Idols of Your Heart
- Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Christ asked fervently for the cup of suffering to be taken away from him. He really didn’t want to go to the cross. But while Christ was tempted, he never rebelled against his Father’s will. Rather, he submitted to him by saying, “If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42 NIV).
God’s will took Jesus to the cross, a place of torture, shame and death. But it was the only way to the resurrection, an event of glory, victory and life.
Jesus is the One who shows us the paradoxical route to meaning in a chaotic and hostile world. It’s the paradox of the gospel: Strength is found in weakness. Control is found in dependency. Power is found in surrender.
Noah fights hard to avoid this paradox. He believes, but he prefers a life that is not caught up in the struggles of Christ in the garden or Paul with his thorn in the flesh. And so do we. But God uses the frustrations of this life and the hurt of relationships to compel us to look beyond what we can control to the God who controls all things in order to woo us to himself. As we move from control to surrender, we move from chasing the wind under the sun to embracing God above it.
A Purposeful Life Above the Sun
From above the sun, we conclude that life under the sun was not intended to run smoothly. The road of life is bumpy and filled with obstacles—for everyone. This is the legacy of the Fall (Genesis 3). Life on earth is untamable. No human can control it.
And yet it is precisely in the untamable twists and turns that we actually meet God. We find ourselves compelled to surrender to his wisdom not when we feel strong and in control but when life careens off its expected course and we know we can’t do anything about it. In these moments we are reminded that we have no control over our world. What we can control, however, is our willingness to seek God in the midst of seeming chaos.
When we are alert to God’s working in our life, we can see how intrusions that overwhelm us, even those that are apparently evil, are his way of moving us toward something good. Surrender in this context is not an act of cowardice but an expectation that Romans 8:28 is true, that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Once we adjust our eyes to see God in the midst of the apparent chaos, we can affirm that, although life is not tamable, it is purposeful—if we surrender to God’s control and power. Surrendering doesn’t mean that we spend less energy, but it does mean that we spend less nervous energy. We can live with a confidence that does not presume on our ability to rope life in but rather grounds itself in the strength and power of the One who made us.
Taking a Closer Look
Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-12.
1. Do you agree that sometimes chance trumps skill or ability?
2. Does life ever feel like a “net” to you (v. 12)?
3. What does this passage say about our ability to control life?
4. How does this passage effect your view of life when competence and skill
seem to be bested by chance?
How Do We Chase After Power?
1. Over what parts of your life do you feel you have control? Where do you
wish you had more?
2. What do you have to sacrifice to keep order in your life? Time? Relationships? Leisure?
3. What emotions do you experience when you feel that something is beyond your power?
4. Does the “power of God” have any practical value in your daily life? Describe where you see his power and how it affects your power.
5. How do you and your family plan your day, your month, your life?
6. What does it mean to you to surrender your life to God? What does that
surrender mean for your planning?
7. Does the realization that life is ultimately untamable ever cause you to
8. What verses from Scripture give you hope in the midst of panic or helplessness?
Taken from Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III. © 2007, 1998 by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. For more information, please visit www.ivpress.com.
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