When I look back on my life and the moments that I believe shaped me into who I am today, I have to admit that those moments were some of the most painful experiences of my life. And yet, God used those times of suffering to make me into the person I am today.
We all have moments in life that define us, and unfortunately, they’re often related to suffering of some kind.
As much as we’d like to think that it’s the mountain top experiences that shape us, that’s rarely the case. Rather, God tends to use the valleys of our lives to grow us, to change us, and to make us into the image of Christ, and it’s those very moments that enable us to experience the joy of the mountain top.
The valley is dark, scary, and painful. Sometimes the suffering is a direct result of our own sinful choices. Sometimes it’s the result of the sinful choices of others. And sometimes it is simply the result of living in a fallen world. Regardless of the cause, the way we respond to resistance, pain, and difficulty reveals what we truly believe in the deepest part of us. In those moments, we are faced with some of the hardest questions we will ever face:
Do I really believe God is good?
Do I really believe God loves me?
Do I really believe God is in control?
Do I really believe God is all I need?
MAKING GOD ENOUGH
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the saying, “You won’t know God is all you need until God is all you have.”
Unfortunately, it’s a common saying because, for the most part, it’s true. At least, the idea behind it is true. But the phrasing itself lends itself to the idea that you won’t really know if God is enough until you’ve lost everything. And while it’s true that you won’t know it by experience until that point, I’d say that you can know that God is enough before you lose everything. In fact, that’s actually the goal.
If we wait until we experience the loss of what we love to discover if God is enough, we will find that God is not enough. Instead, we must learn how to let God satisfy us in the here and now so that when the times of crisis come, we already know that He will be enough and He will carry us through. Otherwise, when we experience the pain and suffering that is inevitable in life, we will instead turn to ourselves or others to make us feel better, following the path of idolatry we talked about last week.
The fact of the matter is that what you believe in the light is what will be proven in the dark. If you want God to be enough for you then, you must make Him enough now.
THE CURE FOR IDOLATRY
So how do we learn to believe the truth so that we can make God enough? What will it take for us to remove the idols in our hearts? There are three elements to the cure for idolatry that I think are vital if we really want to let God be enough for us
STEP 1: REPENT
If we have been worshiping idols, we must repent. How do we know if we’ve been worshiping idols? Check last week’s post. The short version is this: if we have sinned, we have worshiped an idol. As we talked about last time, all of our idols can be tied back to just one major idol: ourselves. When we worship ourselves, our actions are controlled by what we think, how we feel, and what we want in the moment, rather than on God, His goodness, His direction, and what is actually best for us according to His word.
What is repentance? Literally, repentance means to turn. Biblically, repentance is agreeing with God that you sinned against Him, asking Him to forgive you, and making a commitment to walk in obedience instead of going back to your sin.
But what does it mean practically? There are a few things that I think are important to understand when it comes to repentance.
First of all, when we repent, it cannot and should not be a repentance of what we’ve done, but who we are. I think many times we skirt an issue with God simply by compartmentalizing our actions and trying to draw a distinction between what we do and who we are. However, scripture reminds us that the reason we act the way we do is because of who we are.
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them,
In a word: passionate.