Foundations and Idols
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
When our lives begin to shift and change, we start looking for something stable. At the same time, we realize how many things in our lives are more fragile than we really knew. How many things had we learned to count on for our peace when times were easy that simply don’t do the trick in the midst of a crisis. How out of order had we gotten with our priorities? Had we secretly, quietly been shifting the foundations away from God and toward other things—like money, job security, friends and family? Crises always reveal our idols, don’t they?
Some folks are tempted to double down. They are drinking more now than they were before. Some people are trying to devise ways to make more money in the midst of the pandemic, to be productive and entrepreneurial. Some eat more and worse while others are saying now’s the time to lose five pounds. Others are meditating and “working on themselves.”
But what will happen to those things the longer this crisis goes on? What if we’re talking months, not weeks? A year? The reality is, these things will wear thinner and thinner until they’re finally revealed to be nothing but “vanity and chasing after the wind” as the writer of Ecclesiastes likes to say. They are not a firm foundation because none of the things of this life are or can be.
Because we are made of flesh and bone, it’s easy for us to feel like the things of this world are more secure than the things of God. We can see them, touch them, point to them. We know that they’re there and that we can rely on them to do what we want them to do. At least most of the time.
But not so with the things of God. Indeed, God never simply does what we want him to. That is, there is no prayer that’s guaranteed to “work” and the promises of God don’t always end up meaning what we thought they did, or what we want them to. Relying on God and his word seems a lot harder than relying on my money, my skill and training, my health, my family. In the moment it feels less stable.
And in a way, it is. To rely upon God in times of crisis is to place your welfare and the welfare of those you love in the hands of someone else. And really what you’re doing is giving up control, you’re turning your life over to God…whom you can’t see or touch. Giving up control feels very unstable. It’s taking an awful risk.
But that’s really the question, isn’t it? What are you betting on? What do you think will actually carry you through to the end? Be honest. Because the dice are still rolling, the wheel’s still in spin. The time to reevaluate is now. What is your true foundation? Where have you put your hope?
Father, how we have drawn near to you with our mouths and honored you with our lips, yet our hearts were far from you. Forgive us our sins. Forgive us our idol worship. Forgive us our foolishness, for being duped into thinking that we can save ourselves by our idols, the work of our own hands.
Receive us anew, Lord. Use this time. Cause us to search our hearts, our homes, and rid ourselves of that which is displeasing in your sight. Grant us repentance, we pray. Make us new. Refresh our souls with your promises and teach us to trust again in your word. We seek to worship you in spirit and truth. Help us. Save us. Have mercy.