August 11 Reflections

Reflections for August 11, 2019
R. Scott Sullender shares the account of a woman named Marlene in his book “Losses in Later Life.” From day one in her life she was told how cute she was. She was the apple of her parents’ eye, the youngest and prettiest of six children. She was fussed over. She was dressed up. She was admired. She was entered in all the beauty contest and usually won. Always she was expected just to stand there and look pretty. Don’t say anything. Don’t do anything. Just look good. And so, she did. As she grew into adulthood, she incorporated those values. She too worshiped at the altar of appearance. She spent hours in front of the mirror, among the clothes racks, and in the beauty salons.
The only trouble with this scheme was that Marlene grew older, and at thirty-eight her beauty was dull compared to the sparkling looks of younger women. She began to have a growing sense of emptiness, and at times panic. It was a long journey to break free from the grip of the false god of beauty, youthfulness and appearance which at best is temporary, to connect her into faith in the living God who is eternal and never changes.
It is not a bad thing to take care of oneself and look like you care. A god is created when you take a good thing and turn it into a false god. We take a good thing and make it ultimate. This good thing, and it can be physical health, marriage, children, family, relationships, sports teams, athletics, music, a political party, wealth, vacations, electronic devices; actually, the list is endless because as John Calvin said so clearly “our hearts are idol factories” becomes the ultimate thing. It is anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God; anything you seek to give yourself what only God can give. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection this week about the gods I have created in my life. For way too many years I made the approval of others a god, where what people thought of me was more important than what God thought of me. There are more, but part of looking together at the first commandment is to seriously look into our own hearts and see the gods we have created and put before the living God. That is what we are going to think about this week. Some passages to read and reflect on: Exodus 20:1-3; Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 10:32-39; Mark 12:28-34.
Grace upon Grace,
Pastor Verlyn