Sunday, May 25, 2008

One thing I have learned over the course of this past semester is to savor the weekends I am given. I don't say or feel that for selfish gain, but because I have learned to take advantage of any downtime I am afforded. The week is so full, even when I am not simultaneously juggling school, with work responsibilities and other details that zap my energy if I allow them to do so. I remember a day when I felt like something was wrong with me if my weekends were free of events, but times have surely changed. I see time for rest and reflection as a gift, particularly since I am not a disciplined individual by nature.

I have shamelessly taken advantage of being out of school as I can now spend time reading for enjoyment and devotionally rather than reading according to a deadline. One book in particular that I had to put down during the semester is Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick. If I was ever given the opportunity to lead a women's Bible study, I can attest that this is probably the first book with which I would begin. During the conference Elyse spoke at on campus a couple of months ago, she made a sobering statement that I think is very true. In commenting on her experiences traveling and counseling women, she stated that women in this country are crying out for truth. In this self-esteem driven, image-saturated culture, women are in need of hearing the truth in regard to sin and the Savior. I am overwhelmingly reminded of this as I am reading through this particular book. As I am nearing the final chapter, here are just a couple of quotes that have pierced me to the core:

  • Idols aren't just stone statues. No, idols are thoughts, desires, longings, and expectations that we worship in the place of the true God. Idols cause us to ignore the true God in search of what we think we need...I'm not saying that it's wrong to make nice dinners for your husband, exercise properly, or work diligently. If motivated by love of God and others, each of these things can be good. But these actions become sinful when you do them primarily to satisfy your desires instead of to please God. (23, 25)
  • Our wills are doing what they were created to do. It is not the will that is out of synch with the heart when we say we want to worship the Lord and then worship other gods. It is our words that are at variance with our strongest desires and inclinations....It is choosing according to our overriding thoughts and desires, although, because of its sinful bent, our will is more strongly drawn to sin than to holiness....If you wonder why you choose to worship other gods rather than wholeheartedly devote yourself to the Lord you love, examine the thoughts and desires that captivate your heart. That's where you'll find the answer to every sin and failure in your life. Don't be deceived into thinking that you need to develop more willpower. (144-45)
  • The truth about the choices we make is plain. We don't consistently choose the Lord because we don't really desire Him...and we don't really desire Him because we're not convinced that choosing Him will result in our happiness. (150)

These "idols" are going to look and manifest themselves differently depending on the individual; we each have our bents toward particular patterns of sin. However, our sin is common in that it comes down to pride and our desire after the Fall to be ruler of the little kingdoms we try and create for ourselves. There are very specific, difficult sin issues this book by Elyse has applied to in my life, ones that are dealt with and tucked away in the pages of my journal. But there are common questions I can share here, questions posed early on in Idols of the Heart that apply directly to each of the unique hearts the Lord has given us. These questions take the abstract discussion of "idols of the heart" and expose how such idols play out in our daily lives and in the decisions we make:

What do I believe about the source of true happiness in this circumstance?

What do I believe about God in this circumstance?

What do I believe about myself--my rights, my goals, my desires?

What am I trusting in?


jennypen said...

Great! I'll look for this one at the library. (None of the other books/authors you mentioned in Feb, I think, were there!) Any other good suggestions to look for?

Eryn Mikel said...

I really want to read this book. I've heard you talk about her on multiple occasions and it all sounds positive.

Stephanie Robertson said...

I have a friend who does not know the Lord, and who has lost a long term live-in boyfriend as well as her job all in one week. I've been burdened to write her a letter about true hope... but haven't known / been able to start. After reading this post, I'm encouraged to write her about the fact that her particular circumstances will always fail her... and that the only thing that she can whole heartedly rely on is the love of our savior. Thanks, I've been putting this off, but am starting it now.

Stephanie Robertson said...

I know that's not exactly what this post is about... just wanted to let you know that reading it encouraged me to take care of something that has been on my heart that I have been avoiding. I appreciate your honest and thought provoking posts.

Panda-Mom said...

Hope you get and enjoy some much needed R&R!!! ; )

Ashley said...

These similar posts are cracking me up!!! Are you sure you aren't missing a younger sister? :) Enjoy the time off ... it's a blessing!

Kim said...

I really appreciate Elyse Fitzpatrick and her books...I am posting some on our women's ministry blog from her book, Helper By Design.

She is one of my favorites! Mainly because of her Biblical emphasis and accuracy!

Colorado Dreamin' said...

Thanks for that insight. It is something to ponder throughout the day.