My Peace. You surround me with provision, blessings, comforts, pleasures. Protect me by Your blood from every form of idolatry, where I begin to bow down before Your blessings, celebrating Your goods rather than your goodness.
A key symptom of idolatry is dissatisfaction and restlessness. I don’t leave you empty, hungry, thirsty, bored and unfulfilled. Those who speak the contemporary language of addiction speak of tolerance, where the addict demands more and more of the same substance to maintain the same “high”. Every form of idolatry is like this, whether it’s the lust for sex or material comforts or the affirmation and approval of man. There’s never enough.
That’s why Ivan, whom you wrote of yesterday, was a blessed man. He’d loosed his grip on idols and learned to draw satisfaction and joy from the simplest of gifts- especially the sense of My presence.
Idols represent expectations and demands of the stuff of life; often they are unrealistic. I never condemn the enjoyment of life’s legitimate pleasures. The problem comes with the meaning, the significance you try to assign to them. We’ve often spoken of this.
Recall the observation you’ve made several times at the end of a Caribbean cruise -the downright glumness on the faces of so many disembarking passengers. It’s more than the simple regret that the experience is over. Rather, it’s sometimes a profound disappointment that the week’s experience didn’t deliver what it seemed to promise- a sort of transcendent joy that would stick with them after they got off the ship.
This is only partly the fault of the advertisers. They’ve learned to exploit a hunger and thirst that’s already there- a deep longing for they joy that’s only gained through humility and surrender. Humanity’s damnable drive for autonomy and independence from Me cuts them off from the only true satisfaction.
Until that simple truth is embraced, a man’s restless drive for fulfillment will continue to drive him into the wastelands of empty pleasure and the relentless pursuit of what- or rather Whom- he doesn’t even recognize.
But here’s the sweet irony. Once the surrender is truly made and you quit demanding from the stuff of under-the-sun living the fulfillment that only I can give, the pleasures themselves are transformed- from curses to blessings, from destructive, poisonous idols to My gentle kisses. To truly enjoy the temporal pleasures, you you have to loosen your death-grip on them. Quit demanding them and receive them with a grateful heart when I choose to grant them.
That was Ivan’s secret. He’d let go of his idols, his under-the-sun demands and expectations and found his life in Me. And he found joy, even in a freezing Siberian prison. Imagine that!