Choosing Well in 2018
by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
And, it’s a wrap! Christmas 2017 is in the books. I hope it was all you dreamed it would be. Sometimes our expectations can fall way short of the reality. Am I right? I remember having my heart set on a certain highly publicized toy as a young child and being mighty happy when I found my heart’s desire under our Christmas tree. Sadly, however, its plastic parts didn’t even make it to New Year’s Day. My shiny new prize flashed and faded as quickly as the dime-store sparklers our parents bought for our end of the year celebration.
I think we’ve all had similar experiences, haven’t we? There’s a lot of truth to the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” Setting our affections on the wrong prize can be heartbreaking. And now, I’m talking about more than Christmas toys. I’m thinking of a Scripture verse from Jonah 2:8. I read it over the holidays and it has been sticking with me. Listen to this, “Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy.” I hear you. We might need to unpack that a little and frame it in the language of our times before we’ll feel the weight of it.
An idol is whatever or whoever holds the highest focus in our lives; it’s wherever our hopes and dreams are pinned. Whatever you and I are living for is what we are worshipping. Mercy, that brings our verse into focus. But if you’ll allow me to put it in a first person warning for myself, I think our point can get sharper still. As an author and a speaker, if the success of the words I write, that turn into the books I sell, are occupying a higher priority in my life than my relationship with God, my work has become an idol and I’m trading it on the open market at the expense of my own soul. Gulp. I commit to hearing and heeding that warning.
Now, what about you? What dreams, what goals, what expectations of yours have the potential of becoming an idol in your life? While you consider the question, let’s take a second look at our verse, through another translation. The ESV puts it this way, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.”
Are you seeing it? Our idols, our life goals that compete with God for our attention and affection, these are the very things that can cause us to forsake the mercy and steadfast love we’re longing for in the deepest places of our souls, places that can only be found, and filled, by the One who made us. In other words, as 2018 begins, my prayer is that you and I will hear and heed the warning found in those holy words. Let’s be careful what we wish for, because we just might get it.
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an author, speaker, humorist and radio host from Lake Providence, LA. She and her husband live and farm in the Louisiana Delta and spoil their five grandchildren as much as humanly possible.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.