Idol of Control

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? ESV Luke 12:25-26

On Fridays I reflect on my use of my time, money and stuff. Especially in the community where I live, it seems we use these things to ensure control over our lives. We purchase snowblowers so we aren’t bothered by snowfall. We purchase generators so we aren’t inconvenienced by power outages. We save generously for our retirement to ensure we can pursue our pleasures then. We invest hours in keeping up our yards (for what reason, I’m still not sure). In the end, I think we are convinced if we have enough money and stuff, we can control our future and ensure we have nothing to worry about. This is supposed to ease our anxiety, though so many in my community still suffer from anxiety. How can this be?

In many ways, the American dream of a good life, provided through hard work, saving, and purchasing a never ending supply of new stuff is an idol. Instead of trusting the Lord for whatever happens tomorrow, we purchase various items, insurances, and the like in an attempt to control the future. Jesus reminds us we can’t add a single hour to our span of life, so what makes us think we can control the future? Isn’t it ironic that the things we purchased in an attempt to control life don’t work out? The snowblower won’t start, our homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover our catastrophe (an “act of God”), the stock market wipes our our IRA. These frustrations serve as God’s gentle reminders that things will never bring satisfaction. Only satisfaction in God Himself can alleviate our worry. The more we seek to control our future through our money and stuff, the less in control we feel, the more anxious we grow, and truly, the more idolatrous we become.

While having these items doesn’t necessarily make us idolaters, we should stop and ask God to search our heart. Are we trying to add to our span of life? Do we realize the foolishness of this endeavor? Only by trusting God daily can we find true peace. May we worship the one true God today and not turn to vain idols.

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