We recently had a beautiful silver birch tree taken down in our garden. Over the past few years the leaves had shrivelled up long before autumn and it was clear that the tree was slowly dying. It was a lovely tree which I enjoyed looking at through the kitchen window. Its trunk was silvery-white and I loved seeing the fresh green leaves unfolding each spring, and after rain in winter each bare twig was hung with tiny sparkling drops, as the winter sun shone through the branches. I could watch birds perching in it and blue tits nesting in a bird box which I’d hung on it.
However, as soon as it came down, I realised that there was much more light in the kitchen and in the whole of the front part of the garden, and perhaps now some of the other plants will have a better opportunity to flourish.
It made me think about how there are sometimes things in our lives which appear to be good, which we enjoy and seem harmless, but which are actually preventing the work of the Holy Spirit becoming more evident in our lives. It’s like a man who holds an important role in his church which he loves and is good at, but when he’s asked to step down from it, he feels great anger and resentment. His feelings and desire to leave that church then cause suffering in his marriage. His role has become an idol to him and stands in the way of his relationship with the Lord. He needs to repent, be delivered of the spirit of idolatry, and stay in his church - but serve there in a different capacity.
I’m not suggesting that God’s a kill-joy who wants us to stop doing all the things that we enjoy. That’s not the case. He’s given us a wonderful world and I believe He means His children to enjoy it. He’s the Creator God, and He loves us being creative, because that’s an expression of Himself. But it’s when we allow those things we enjoy to become more important than the God who created us that the dangers arise. He gives us talents which we can use to His glory, but we mustn’t allow them to become an idol in our lives.
From time to time we need to check the things we’re doing and ask God, “is this becoming more important to me than my relationship with You?” and act accordingly.
Prayer: Dearest Father, it is so easy for me to allow idols to appear in my life: my work, my family, my job, even the things I do for You. Please help me to be honest and enable me to have a proper sense of proportion. I don’t want anything to stand in the way of my relationship with You. Thank You, Lord, Amen.
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