Well, here we are. We made it to 2021. If you had any ideas that a new year would take us back to “normal”—you have been quickly disillusioned. Or perhaps, you expected more heaviness and upheaval and so, you have been proved correct. Whatever mindset you came into January 2021 with, we find ourselves brought to our knees, again.
What you hope for shapes what you live for. Though we are less than three weeks into the new year, we have already seen what it looks like to live for the wrong thing. We have seen people use violence and force because they refuse to accept reality. We have seen the fallout that comes with hopes that are shattered because they were built on unstable ground, placed in someone or something that falls so short of being able to sustain and fulfill those hopes.
Even the most self-aware of us fall into traps baited with shadow hopes. We idolize and seek rescue in political parties, federal and local governments, social movements, spiritual leaders, and any number of other things. These things are tangible to our physical senses; we can touch, see, hear these things, so we trust them. We exchange the glory of the One and Only God, Yahweh, the I AM, for gods cast in shapes and colors familiar to us and that we can wrap our minds around. We put our trust in the creations, rather than the Creator, forgetting that the creations are overwhelming evidence of the Creator.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1
God does not mince words about the state of those who trust in something other than Him.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” – Jeremiah 17:5-6
We see this time and again throughout Scripture. Abraham feared losing his life more than losing his wife, twice putting his trust in a lie instead of in God. The Israelites, recently freed from slavery in Egypt, prioritized the comfort of knowing what to expect over the new unknowns of following God. They put their trust in tyrants and murderers rather than in God who had just rescued them from their oppressors with many signs and wonders. Further distrust and disobedience caused them to live in the wilderness for 40 years. Nebuchadnezzar believed he was worthy of greater praise and glory than God, until he was humbled and stripped of his kingdom for a time. In the end, he knew who truly deserved all the praise and glory—God alone.
We need to be alert and watch for when we take something and start prioritizing it over God. What you spend your time on reveals your priorities. What you think and talk about reveals what you value. What you fear losing reveals what you love. Many of those are good things, but the problem comes when we take good things and fashion them into idols.
God is also very descriptive when it comes to the characteristics of those who trust in Him.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
So who are you living for? Who are you living for in the moments when no one is looking? Who do you prioritize with your time and resources? If it is not God, take time right now to repent of what or who you are living for. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins when we sincerely repent.
When we put our trust in God, and have our priorities in the correct order, we do not need to fear being washed away when the storms come. We do not need to fear being sucked dry by a drought. We do not need to fear because we are rooted in, fed, and sustained by God. The same God who freed the Israelites after 400 years of slavery. The same God who sent His only Son to die a horrific death so that we could be reconciled to Himself. The same God who prepares places for us to dwell with Him forever. He is the only One worth living for.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:1-3