“What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought.”
Frederick Buechner from Listening to Your Life
So Paul stood in the middle of the leadership council and said, “Respected leaders of Athens, it is clear to me how extravagant you are in your worship of idols. For as I walked through your city, I was captivated by the many shrines and objects of your worship.” ~Acts 17:22&23a TPT
Paul’s prison doors opened, his chains broken, he goes back to the home of Lydia before being run out of Philippi by Jewish leaders, meeting with the believers and encouraging them.
From Philippi, Paul preaches in Thessalonica and Berea. From there he travels to Athens.
We will pick up our journey in Athens where Paul is waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him.
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. ~Acts 17:16 NLT
Paul, beaten with a rod, imprisoned, ran out of Philippi and Thessalonica, chased in Berea, is deeply troubled by the idols he sees in Athens. Given all that Paul has been through, I’m not sure I would have noticed them.
Not only did he notice them according to commentaries, he was disquieted, vexed, filled with grief and indignation. He shuddered at what he saw.
The Message says this, “The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got-all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.”
When I think of junkyards, I see a field with rusting parts hidden behind a fence, that we may not see the unsightly mess contained and hidden. Signs posted, warning us, stay away. Often guarded by snarling dogs or security cameras. Peering in, it all seems to be a jumbled up mess, I’m wondering why the need for such extreme measures.
Stash them in the closet. Sweep them under the rugs.
I am prompted to consider what am I hiding in my junkyard? What idols do have?
In today”s society, that is a loaded question.
I have already confessed my online affair with Amazon, all things books, and the (rare~smile) occasional tendency to grab and discard any boxes, lest they be evidence. (insert rolling eye emoji)
But what about the things hidden behind the fence, my protective barrier?
Oh my, those are the things I’d rather you not know. I am inclined to share a few, lest you find them in your own junkyard.
My iPhone, oh yes, a spectacular specimen of all things need to know with just the lightest touch of a hand. I am connected to it, more than I care to admit, or care for you to know. As my need for Sabbath rest has overwhelmed, I am getting better at leaving it in the hands of my man, folding down the cover and taking a nap. Other than that, for someone who moves at turtle pace, the teeniest hint of jingle sends me moving at turtle warp speed, for fear of what I might have missed.
PS: I wrote the above paragraph early yesterday. Later in the day, I accidentally (gasp) left it on my desk as we were leaving for the gym for my physical therapy. Red faced squealing ensued, to the point my Sweet Man offered to turn around and get it! “No, no, seriously, I’ll be okaaaaay,” weeping and wailing all the way.
All things Apple. We know where that pesky fruit led Eve!
My insecurities, am I enough, and did they really like me. If I say no, will I still belong? Is what I have to say really worth listening to? This, a sampling of things circling my heart as I leave the room. My need for validation and a pat on the back. These traits, ugly, steely, junk, stashed in a corner of my junkyard. When tended and fed, they turn to pride, self importance, platform, and more. Before long they meld together, making an idol. This idol, I can hide from you, however, I cannot escape my face in the mirror.
Social media, Netflix, food, a number on a scale, these hoover in the corners of our junkyard, beckoning a prime spot in our lives. Placing them above all else.
We seek idols more than God.
Idols are dangerous, life threatening, cause all manner of harm.
I urge each of us today, take an inventory. You might be surprised with what you find.
What am I extravagant with? What captivates?
Paul wrote these words, encouraging the believers in Philippi as he sat in a Roman prison around 61AD:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ~Philippians 4:8 NLT
What am I grasping for? Jesus, life and resurrection, the One true way, or the idols lurking hidden in the junkyard.
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Coming next week: A Give Away! Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. If you read 1000 Gifts, you are in for a treat! If not, you will be quickly beckoned in wanting more!
Gifts of Grace