The Battle for My Heart
I have always enjoyed keeping a journal. Before becoming a believer, I would use my journal to empty my head and get any creative thoughts out on paper. Now it also serves a deeper purpose of detailing my conversations with God. Not only do I find the act of journaling healthy, but I also value the ability to review those thoughts and ideas later. In the moment, most of my ideas seem right to me, but often upon further review, my perspective can change.
Recently, I spent a lot of time reading back through old journal entries from 2005-2009. It had been a while since I had last looked over them, and this time something really struck me that I had never noticed before…
Through the words that I had written on the pages, I could see that there was a clear battle for my heart being playing out during those years. It was stunning. I felt as if I could see two different gods pulling me in different directions from one day to the next.
I think it was difficult to realize at the time because both of the gods appear to be very similar. Both of these gods like prayer and community. They both talk about what Jesus did 2000 years ago when he died on a cross and was resurrected from the grave. Both are “Christian” and both are accepted in almost every church in the United States, every weekend of the year.
God One vs. god two
God one is the true God of the bible. He is Creator of heaven and earth. He is the good Father who saved me from a life of sin, and gave me everlasting life. Through His son Jesus, I have a personal relationship with Himself. This is the God who brings peace to my spirit. He is the only one who can heal the deep wounds that this world dishes out.
god two looks very similar, but has one strikingly different characteristic: god two exists to serve and please me. he is a false god, or an idol, created from a distortion of the truth. Not only that, but he is master of deception and on the surface appears to be telling me the truth, when in fact he is lying to me. He knows how much I love myself and plays to my selfish desires whenever he can.
The battle to serve myself, and a self-imposed picture of a god who exists to serve me can be a regular battle. Often, it’s much harder to follow Jesus and serve the God who He taught about when He walked the earth.
God one is certainly a good Father, who wants to give us far more than we can ask or imagine, and who desires to bless us. But the path that leads to His good gifts is often not the easy path that I often request Him to lead me down. The goodness of God is often found on a narrower path that Jesus teaches about: a way that denies self, and serves others first. A way that is not focused on what I can get, but what I can give. This is the path that God wants to meet us on, but many will not choose this path. They will stay focused on the easy path that is right before them, asking God to fill their current wants or desires, without much thought of how God may desire to do something far greater in their life.
Discerning the Different Gods
I don’t know exactly when I started pursuing god two in my journey of faith. I could certainly tell that I was pursuing him through my journal. Prayers to god two were easy to spot. They focused on what I wanted, my success, and the blessings that I was asking him to grant to me. The focus was on myself, but it all sounded very spiritual and sometimes deceivingly humble.
The journey to fight self and follow God one, the only true God, has been a daily battle. But Jesus told us it would be this way:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
This week, pay attention to your prayer life. Are you praying to a god who exists simply to give you what you want in life? Or are you talking to a God who is sovereign above all, whose direction and plan for your life might be far greater than you even understand how to ask for?