Ligon Duncan’s words have been haunting me since that morning at T4G: “When we look at our disappointments, we’ll see what we love.” It was a message by a minister about ministers and for ministers, but the shoe is a universal fit. To put his point another way, when what goes wrong infuriates us, when what we lose depresses us, or what we failed to get frustrates us, we’ve uncovered our idols. Sifting through a few of my disappointments later that night and comparing them to my love for Christ, was unsettling.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism contends that the chief objective of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If you’re kind of fuzzy on “glorify” you may plow right ahead to get to “enjoy Him forever”. Which most Christians would say, “Yeah, I plan to enjoy Him forever”. Heaven, right? But forever starts at the moment of regeneration, long before we die and go to be with the Lord. So here’s the question, am I enjoying Him…, NOW? Especially even in my disappointments? Am I satisfied in him even as my life goes down the toilet?
In the Gospel in Life study our CARE group went through, Tim Keller defines an idol: Why do we lie, or fail to love, or break our promises, or live selfishly? Of course, the general answer is “Because we are weak and sinful,” but the specific answer is that there is something besides Jesus Christ that we feel we must have to be happy, something that is more important to our heart than God, something that is enslaving our heart through inordinate desires. The key to change (and even to self-understanding) is therefore to identify the idols of the heart.”
Hey, I enjoy God!
Maybe in reality I enjoy Him only if everything else I treasure goes my way. If my financial situation tanks, I really don’t find much joy in Christ despite Him delivering me from damnation. If my teenagers are just one disaster away from going down the tubes, I really don’t find much joy in what God’s done for me. (That comes later once they straighten out.) If I want to be married but am not, I have to admit God isn’t much of a compensation for me. If a dear friend stops taking my calls, God’s peace does not offset what I’ve lost. I enjoy God as long as my idols are present, clean, polished, intact.
If it’s sounds like I’m piling on people who are suffering and trivializing their heartaches, I plead innocent. And, to state up front that in all of us, dismantling or at least demoting idols, is a lifelong campaign. But no one tackles idols before ID’ing them. This is one more way to do that: what disappoints you?