I read some excerpts today from “Made to Crave” by Lisa TerKeust. She talked about how from the very beginning, when Adam and Eve were in the garden, Satan has tried to get us to crave something other than God. She mentioned the rich young ruler and how Jesus asked him to give up all of his money in order to inherit eternal life. She said the point of this story is that God wants us to give up anything that we crave more than him.
The same theme was magnified to me in the lesson at church last night. Jameson taught on the story of Elijah at Mount Carmel. He talked about how we all have our idols that we pour our lives into, trying to make them fill the empty hole in our souls. We long for the American dream, for success, for a romantic partner, and so on. Like the false prophets, when our pursuit of these things doesn’t fulfill, we just “dance” more, pursuing them even more desperately.
“Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (I Kings 18:21)
Jameson stressed that we often waver between two opinions. We want God, and we want success, or whatever our idol is. And it doesn’t work that way. We need to give everything to God, and trust Him to meet our needs.
This all is really hitting home with me today, because I have seen so much in myself lately a huge craving for achievement and order. I want so much to accomplish things. I don’t want to just spin my wheels and be ineffective. I am jealous of others and their accomplishments.
And I deeply desire my life to be orderly. I want the house to restful. I am driven to fix up my yard. I was compelled to go out and by new place mats and decorations for my table, because I felt that I just couldn’t look at the old stained ones any longer. The disorder around me screams at me all day long.
I am reading a novel that I really like, “The Laws of Gravity” by Liz Rosenberg. It is about two cousins who grew up like sister and brother. One is dying of leukemia, and the other has a store of the umbilical cord blood from the birth of his son, which could be used in treatment and possibly save the one dying. But the cousin with the umbilical cord blood refuses to give this to his cousin in order to save her. He is too afraid that his own children will get sick, and then he won’t have the blood to treat them. He loves his cousin, but he is completely addicted to being in control.
And that, I think, is the lesson for me. I am addicted to being in control. The need for accomplishment and order are but two symptoms of this.
I thought to myself last night, “Why do you think you have to be this proficient wise person walking around all the time? You’ve grown in spiritual maturity in your relations with others, but you can’t approach God this way. You still need to approach him like a child.”
So this is what I am starting to do. I picture myself going to God as a child, being honest with him, saying, “Show me, guide me.”
What has helped me most in the past when I have struggled with my need for achievement is to remember what I came from, and how God rescued me. I wrote:
At that place where I was so full of anger and hurt that I couldn’t think of something good, that place where I was full of melancholy and there was no way to feel better, at that place where lust was taking me places I shouldn’t go, at the place where I didn’t want to be with anyone or give to anyone, at that place where sin was in full bloom, at that place where I was so far from being worthy of saving, like a despicable criminal on death row, the slime of the earth, evil in heart, only selfish, reveling when others have bad happen to them, being provocative and leading others to temptation, unfaithful, foolish, willfully selling my soul to Satan, that is where I NEEDED AND NEED A SAVIOR and Christ saved me.
I was in a slimy pit from which there was no escape. Every time I tried to climb out, I’d slip right back. Jesus came and rescued me from that pit, but the only way he could help me get out was to give his life, to be mangled, pummeled, spat on, whipped to shreds, crushed in spirit.
And if I seek after achievement and order, I am climbing back down in the pit all over again.
Psalms 40 says it well:
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Or even better, Psalms 18:
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me….
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me…
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Let me just bask in Jesus. God, show me how your love can fill my deepest cravings today.
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Ps 73:21-26)