I started the Jeremiah study with our women’s group two weeks ago. I remember sitting on the floor in the Lifeway Christian Bookstore for over 2 hours with at least 15 Bible Studies surrounding me. I was trying to skim through looking for clarity on the best one to teach – and praying that whatever I choose – it would a study that touches the core of all of us who participate.
It seemed like Jeremiah was the way to go. When I lead Bible studies I try to stay one week ahead of the class. It’s amazing because you can read through a Bible Study and be very moved by it. But then when you have to teach what you just studied – it really makes it come alive in a whole other way. Sometimes I don’t even realize the impact of what I just read or it’s true application – until it leaves the tip of my tongue.
To say I’m overwhelmed right now would be an understatement. August marked 1 year since Jose’s sister died. I spent an unexpected 54 days in the states dealing with health issues. This time in the states allowed me to see and finally realize that my parents are getting older. Though still the toughest birds you’ll ever meet – I’m not ready for that next season.
Jose & my dad packed crates and drove them to Miami to ship to Haiti. The crates are full of donations! Wahoo! There’s Christmas gifts for my children, the staff, and our orphans. They’re full of toiletry items, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, food, peanut butter, a fridge to replace the broken one, all the school books/items our kids need going into this next year- and of course some Christmas lights and decorations for the whole campus! What a blessing! It was the funnest crates to pack!! But now I’m staring at a shipping bill…. paralyzed with anxiety about how we’re going to pay it in time for Christmas.
There’s some major financial deficits coming up for our Mole Orphanage (will be blogging about that in more detail shortly) which creates anxiety in how we will be able to continue to provide the standard of care we’re known for.
Momma Gigi has been taking care of Rosenaika for the past 7 years. Her mother is mentally challenged which is why Momma Gigi started helping her. For some reason the mother thinks she is making money off the child and asked for Rosenaika to return to St. Louis. It’s a terrible situation for her family.
Two friends I went to high school with committed suicide this past month. Momma GIgi’s brother committed suicide and drove off a bridge the first week of August. In fact, in one week – every single employee here in the mole suffered a loss of someone they loved.
Two days ago – a man we all love and call – Superman – passed away from a staph infection. Superman was just that – someone ready and willing rescue. One time there was a wall that started falling down as the men were working below. It wasn’t even his day to work but he heard the commotion and he literally jumped off the ledge into the dirt and dug out another worker alongside my dad….risking his life. For those of you who have been to morning devotions in St. Louis – he plays the drums.
Life. is. hard.
Have you ever forgotten to do something? Over 25 times the words: remind, remember, forget, or forgotten are used in the Book of Jeremiah. We are studying about idolatry. God knows our tendency to forget and calls us to intentionally set patterns in our lives to help us remember Him. Scripture often calls idolatry a trap. God warns His people that the things of this world will try to lure us away from Him. This world sings lies to us that our God is not enough.
Jeremiah 2:43 – Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.
Maybe for you it’s not about a ring or a dress? Maybe instead you always remember your telephone, computer, Starbucks coffee, or your wallet. Sometimes we take greater care of “things” then we do our relationship with Christ.
This is not a new problem. The people of Isreal were so focused on the things of this earth that they FORGOT their God. Jeremiah was God’s prophet calling out to the people – DON’T FORGET GOD BECAUSE YOU ARE SO FOUCSED ON THINGS YOU CAN TOUCH, TASTE, AND FEEL.
Over 40 verses scattered through out the Book of Jeremiah mention idols. We could read through Jeremiah and say shame on the Isrealites. They committed adultery, child sacrifices, and spent their time and money pouring out offerings to imaginary Gods. Maybe we look at that and think that their problems are not our problems.
But Idols have to do with things even people you put before God. Are there some relationships or objects that draw your heart away from God?
I was reminded of this little story…
A little girl bought a plastic pearl necklace with the money she had been saving all year. She loved her pearls and felt so grown up when she wore them. She never took them off. Though the pearls weren’t real – that didn’t matter to her. She had bought them all by herself.
The little girl had a loving father. One day he said to her, “Honey, do you love me?”
“Yes daddy,” she said. “You know I love you”
“Then will you give me your pearls?” her father asked.
“Not my pearls!” the little girl gasped. “But you can have my toy horse”.
“That’s Okay, sweetheart. I love you” he replied. And then he kissed her cheek.
About a week later the father asked his little girl again, “Do you love me?”
“Daddy you know I love you” – she said.
“Then will you give me your pearls?” – He repeated.
“Not my pearls but I’ll give you my baby doll”
That’s okay. I love you. – the father answered. And once again he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
The same routine happened again and again. The little girl began to wonder – If daddy loves me, why does he want to take away something I love?
Then one day the little girl walked up to her father with tears in her eyes and held out her fake pearl necklace. “Here daddy. This is for you” – she said.
The father reached out a hand to take the necklace and with his other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a velvet case. Inside that case was a strand of genuine pearls, chosen with love and care for his daughter. He had the pearls all along but was waiting for his daughter to give up what she had so that he could give her something even better.
When we neglect to remember all the ways God has shown Himself in our lives, we make ourselves easy prey for the world’s counterfeits. We too can forget him when our circumstances overwhelm us. Often we turn to people, money, or human wisdom to make sense of our problems.
Like in the story of the fake pearls – we tend to hold tightly to what we think will help us through. We put our trust in people, jobs, status, money, and many other things that seem safer than God.
Remember an Idol is – any object, practice, habit, person, or thing we elevate above God.
These things we reach for will never satisfy. When we let go of our idols we experience the thrill of real peace…..peace – – real peace — – not the kind that is dependent on people, circumstances, or things. His pearls are priceless.
I challenged the women along with myself to loosen the grip of the fakes that we hold onto so tightly that we may find peace and a satisfying in our soul that can only be filled by Christ.
I gave each of the ladies a paper with a cross on it. The paper represented their sin which was covered by that cross. They could tear up that paper/sin into as many pieces as they needed. If there’s a fake idol that we’re holding on to, a sin we continue to do in secret, a relationship that’s deceiving us, even anxiety that we continue to feed – – It’s time to lay it down and destroy it before it destroys us.
So last night I surrendered my anxiety, my doubt, my fear, my insecurities, my lack of understanding, my worries…..