Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
- Psalm 25:4
Sometimes when I read the Bible I get all smug.
I look at those people from back then, and I just think to myself, “buncha idiots.” Specifically, today, I was reading about God’s people in the book of Jeremiah. They had been taking silver and gold and exotic fabrics and making gods out of them, like real actual statues that they would pray to, and petition for help, and worship. Well, that’s just silly, right? They oughta know that these inanimate statues are incapable of doing anything. But still, they worshiped, and petitioned, and prayed. Well, I felt very superior about it, like I’d never do THAT.
Which is generally when God steps in and puts the smack down on me. And, he sure did.
Because what came next was this prayer by Jeremiah, the good guy, the one who actually was following God the whole time. It’s a prayer of confession, that even he is guilty of going his own way. He confesses,
Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
it is not for them to direct their steps.
Discipline me, Lord... (Jer 10:23-24a)
You see, this man of God isn’t looking down his nose at the weighty and ridiculous wrongdoings of the people around him and feeling self-righteous. He gazes instead at his own heart, and confesses that he’s prone to his own kind of wandering. He wants to direct his own path, to be the one in charge of everything. And, he’s so distraught by his own waywardness, that he asks God to discipline him, to root out this desire he has to go his own way.
I was cut to the heart.
Here I was judging the “god-makers” when in fact, I am even worse than they. I had this immediate realization that I don’t just make gods, I try to BE GOD. I’m a bold new “god-maker”, putting myself in the center of the shrine. I want to be the shiny “god” that everyone looks to with awe. I want to be the witty one, the brightest and the best. I want to be the “lord” of my own story, and the director of my path. Oh, I am far worse than those people from way back when.
So, like Jeremiah, I confessed. I told God how I want to do all the things on the kids t-shirts. I want “choose my own adventure”, to “follow my arrow”, to “believe in myself”. But, I am not God. In fact, I make a pretty bad god, even just of my own life. Because, like those other “man made gods” from long ago, I'm actually just as incapable of bringing about my will as they were.
There is only one God. He's the only one who is able to bring about anything of his own will. He is the only one who deserves to be at the center of the shrine. And, He’s the only one who can truly put me on the right path, the path to joy, peace, contentment, and purpose－the path to him.