We, too, are idol makers, builders of our own empires, worshipers of money, success, entertainment--things that we know are self-exalting and linked to the gods of this world. But we can worship good things, too, like family and health, and GOD things, like service and religious practices. It’s amazing how many things can displace God. Sometimes, we have to be stripped of the bad--and the good--to see that God has been totally forsaken. We may have to be “exiled” to move away from the stuff we’ve allowed to become most important to us. We may have to be emptied of securities, like jobs with high-dollar benefits or posh lifestyles with luxury that we think we’ve acquired ourselves, so that we can see we really have nothing without God‘s generosity. Or maybe WE have to be reduced for a time—with no place for our talent to shine, lack of health to perform with gusto, loneliness that quiets the environment, limitations we can’t control that render us immobile and non-productive—until we can see that our identity lies within God, not our accomplishments, abilities, achievements, or assets. Alas, we must also forgo God’s presence sometimes—walk through barren places where his word is lifeless on the page, his response to our ceiling-high prayers is silence, his warmth is absent from our hearts. Then, our faith can refocus. We see if he really is God in our lives, and we see if we really are going to trust him and walk with him in covenant relationship.
Exile is a lonely, unfamiliar place, a place where we encounter the truth of the object of our affections. If it is God, we find him all the dearer. If things, people, or abilities hold our affections, we discover that all we possess is empty without God. Not only is he the giver of it all; without him, everything becomes meaningless. If our isolation exposes the truth that we are nothing without God, then our hearts can fully return to him. Amid the barrenness, he becomes our sanctuary. And he is enough.
Tip/Tidbit: Take time today to remember a difficult situation and the unexpected blessings that resulted from the pain. Let the reminder encourage you to refocus your hope, your priorities, and your relationship with God.