Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Shallow Comforts

* This post was written in September of 2007. Originally it was posted on another blog where I occasionally guest posted. In light of all "resolution talk" that goes around this time of year, re-reading this post was a good reminder to me. A reminder to focus back on what's important.

It is a bit long. So getcha a cup of coffee...You'll need it if you plan to stay all night tonight anyway!

Several weeks ago I started a Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel.  

The beginning of this study opens with Beth making parallels between the Babylon of Daniel’s time and the culture we live in today.

I agree with Beth, we do live in a modern day Babylon, where outward appearance is of supreme importance and everything from the magazine stand to the shampoo bottle is telling us that we deserve to be happy and wealthy; we “can have it all”. 

Our culture tells us that we can wish for, buy, steal or borrow happiness.  As a culture we are inundated with slogans, ad campaigns and “people” that tell us what we can do, think, and feel to achieve success and be considered ‘highly’.  

These products and philosophies are all distractions, taking my focus off the most important thing in life and replacing Him with surface level band-aids not meant at all to help the core of the problem. What is my problem?  Glad you asked!

My problem is that I am a sinner, completely and totally needy for a Savior. I have not committed any really “bad” sins so far in my life. I am faithful to my husband; I try to be a good mom. I give to the church and make meals for the needy. I am involved in ministry and do my best to be nice. OH! I have several pastors’ wives as good friends and I go, every week, to lady’s bible study, so I keep nice company. 

And yet…

 I do have a problem. One you can’t see and I try to keep hidden. A deep seated ugliness that I could pin on the whole Adam and Eve/Fall of Man thing. It’s the problem of not realizing how much I depend upon the things of the world to satiate my need for the One Thing. 

I need to sit down and remind myself that it is not a new wardrobe, not a pill, not a new exercise program, not to lose another five pounds, but The Savior alone, that can cure me. 

For the record, I’m talkin’ Jesus here.

I have become so beguiled to the culture I live in, that not only am I sucked in by the hype, but worse, I have stopped seeing how much it affects me.  

Apathy: that’s a scary place to be.  The trap apathy lays before me is one that isn’t the easiest to escape.

I’m reading Thomas a Kempis right now. This quote hit where it hurts this week:

It is unthinkable that a man can truly find happiness in this life, if at the same time he views himself as an exile here and sees his soul surrounded by many dangers.

On a day to day basis, I don’t see my soul surrounded by many dangers. I have grown complacent and comfortable in a culture that tells me that I am good and deserve happiness, and spoon feeds me information that I have been told I want to hear. To add insult to injury, I have found myself licking that plate clean and asking for more.  Because the things I think will fix me cannot satisfy my neediness.  It’s like eating cotton candy; a beautiful mound of fluffy pink cloud, full of empty calories that leave me wanting.  

All is distraction. Dangerous distractions that keep me from the realization that I cannot find happiness in a place where I am not meant to stay. Even if my time here lasts 90 years, this world is not my home.

Blessed is the man who can set aside all distraction…

Act with courage, for habit is broken by habit.


At the beginning of the study it was suggested that we exercise a tiny bit of self-denial in a culture full of indulgence, abstaining from rich meats or something that would give us a chance to tell ourselves “no”. It could be anything and not just food and only for a time. 

This is suggested to be a tangible reminder to stand apart from our culture, a lot like Daniel and his friends did when they asked to be fed on a diet that was the antithesis of the Kings table. He did this because he refused to lay down the standards of God in exchange for the standards of men.  

I asked God to show me the ways in which I feed my mind upon the things of the world that are harmful to my soul.

And He answered.

I am a current events and news junky. I get on line several times a day to look up multiple news websites to see what is happening in the world. CNN, NYCTimes, and my local paper. Oh, and to keep up on “current events”, I also go to the People Magazine website. Every. Day.  

I was sad when I clicked over to People and saw that we, as a country, are watching young women deteriorate right in front of our eyes. 

One young singer in particular is in-over-her-head in an apathetic trap; losing her friends, fans, career, and maybe even her children.  She is losing her life, and I am logging on every day to see what will happen next; Aiding and abetting a mockery that is chewing up this woman and spitting her out.  

I am not saying that reading a People magazine is “bad”.  What I am saying is that I have become so indoctrinated in the way of the world that I can no longer identify her ugliness with the fact that it is really the same as mine...she is trying just as hard to feed that needy place reserved exclusively for Christ, with the cotton candy lies of the world. It’s just that my neediness isn’t plastered all over the world in a black sequin bikini; Mine is hidden behind a casserole and standard pew at church. 

So, I am giving current affairs and news stories a rest.  I have limited myself to the local 5 o’clock news and from now until December.  It’s been hard this week because browsing the news websites has become a habit. But I am looking forward to hearing what God has to share with me in the weeks to come as I clean out my head and heart of the rubbish, and replace them with the things of God.

The “shallow comforts of this world” aren’t enough.  I know that, but I don’t live that. 

It’s time to start.


Anonymous said...

WOW! You nailed it on the head. What a great reminder going into the new year...

Woman Interrupted said...

Very thoughtful post! Gluttony in its many forms is a huge issue in our society. Enough is never enough. We're all guilty in some way.

(And, no, we don't need a day to day update on Britney's deterioration or the state of the Brangelina marriage)

Anonymous said...

I love this post. This is such a good reminder. Thank you, thank you.

jen said...

Loved this post...though I might have to quit reading here if you keep being so, so,...convicting. ;)

I have been trying to assess the very thing you mention here, and oh, it seems the list is endless; it seems I will look to anything before I look to the Lord to fill my void. Oh, to get back to the simplicity of knowing God!