I do some dumb things. Earlier this week I lost my car keys. I had just driven the car about an hour previously and pulled it into the driveway, so I knew the keys couldn’t have gotten far.
Don’t you hate it when you misplace something of value like your keys, your purse or wallet, your glasses, or – dare I even say it – your phone? Losing something is EXTREMELY stressful. I’m guessing many of you would have done exactly what I did: I went back to the car to see if I left the keys there. After all – that’s the last place I know I must’ve had the keys. Or to say it a different way, it was the last place I was secure in knowing where the keys were.
Naturally, after my search of the car was unsuccessful, I returned to the house. Here’s the dumb part: when my persistent search failed to uncover the keys – I returned to the car to look there AGAIN. FOUR more times! Eventually it got dark outside, so on the last attempt I was fumbling around in the darkness and trying to use my phone for a light. Pathetic…
It’s a peculiar aspect of human behavior that we sometimes look for things in places we’ve already looked. Even if we are aware that it is irrational, there’s something about how we respond to the stress of loss that just keeps drawing us back: “If I look there just once more, maybe THIS time I’ll find it – and my stress will go away!”
The same thing can be true in our Christian behavior: we know that we already tried searching the things of this world to find satisfaction, and yet sometimes when we are under a great deal of stress we turn back to the worldly things that brought us comfort in the past.
Before we became Christians, we might have found security in our worldly identity – our popularity, position, or power. Maybe the love and pursuit of money brought us security. Maybe we turned to things like alcohol or other substances to find comfort. Gossip or revenge may have helped us feel better about ourselves. Or maybe it was a thrill-seeking lifestyle that helped us cope – or maybe some combination of all these behaviors. When we turn to these things for comfort or security instead of God, the Bible says these things become idols.
In our study of the Old Testament prophets, a couple of themes have been revealed. First, God’s people were repeatedly drawn back to idolatry – their hearts were prone to wander. And second, God kept calling His people back – to turn their hearts back to Him and away from worldly idols.
After searching the car for my keys five times, I eventually did what I should have done from the beginning: I started looking in the places where the keys were likely to be instead of re-looking in the places of the past. I found my keys in the pocket of the jacket I had been wearing – hanging right where it should be in the mud room.
At some time or another we all turn to worldly sources of security from our past – it’s our human nature. Often this occurs when we feel a sense of loss – damaged pride, a financial setback, the loss of a relationship. Now that we are followers of Christ, we know where the solutions should be. They’re in God’s word, in prayer, in our faith family congregation, in our small groups, and in our accountability partner brothers and sisters in Christ.
To what do you turn for comfort from the challenges you face? The next time you feel a sense of loss and its accompanying stress, I hope you will look to where you know the solutions should be rather than looking back in the old places from your past.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the LORD