(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
One of my idols is isolation. Too often, I just want to feel safe for the sake of feeling safe. And that can come in many forms that – on the surface – seem to be perfectly fine: playing guitar alone on the back porch, reading a good book in the quite of our upstairs sitting room, hitting the elliptical hard in a gym full of people – with my headphones turned up. But there’s something far more serious going on inside.
In my mind, isolating myself protects me from dangers that time with others might bring: more responsibilities for me and my eventual failure to them, my emotional vulnerability and their eventual discovery that I’m only human and not a very good one. Me, me, me.
In Merle Jordan’s brief but packed book, “Taking on the gods: the task of the pastoral counselor”, he describes two forms of idolatry. The most commonly understood is the idolatry of worshiping anything other than the true God – even distorted images of the true God. The other is the idolatry to coming to God by any means other than how He commands. My idolatry of isolation is my effort to remain in good standing with God by keeping myself from whatever may rouse my fear, selfish anger, faithless sadness, etc.
But what I need is not self-generated protection for my personal happiness. Pursuing my happiness as my ultimate goal will just feed my selfishness. My spirit needs the protection of Christ for His greater goals. Check out this seven-minute video that describes the protection of Christ as seen in the third day of creation.
Any “protection from” is always related to “provision for” some specific purpose. If I want to drive from Fort Benning to Atlanta, I need the provision of at least two hours in good traffic. So I need protection from a late start, bad weather, and crazy traffic. My protection from other people revealed my spiritual purpose of standing before God with as many good deeds and as few blow-ups or melt-downs as possible.
But, again, that route only leads to greater pride or fear. Pride when I do well and fear when I don’t. Where’s the joy of depending on Christ and watching Him come through – even if it’s later than right now? Where’s the collective love, wisdom and strength of depending on others in the Body of Christ? Where’s the opportunity to get in water way over my head like Peter, only to experience how Jesus might reach down and rescue me? Or where’s the opportunity to experience Him letting me struggle like Jonah, only to see Him work in spite of my foolishness.
The Lord protect His people from anything that would be too much for them. (Joshua 1:1-9, Luke 10:19, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, etc.) But He does not protect us from everything. 1 Peter 5:10 tells us that “after you have suffered for a while, He will restore you and make you strong…” In Luke 22:31, the Lord tells Peter that Satan (I’m paraphrasing) wants to rip him to shreds. But Jesus had prayed for him.
The Lord protects His people because they are His people for His purpose. Trust Him.
Unless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling. Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995. By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998. He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling. Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States. Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq. For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.
Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.