An Idol Heart (Grant Jenkins)
Today, we are so blessed to have Grant Jenkins share his heart with us. Our prayer today is that no matter where you are in your relationship with God, this post will prompt you to take your next step.
Read Grant’s Blog Here: An Idol Heart
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About a year ago my life hit a wall. A conflict arose in my professional life that quickly sent my heart into a tailspin. I found myself in a situation that appeared to be a threat that what I considered my career “success”. I didn’t react well. In fact, my heart freaked out.
One night while searching for answers, grasping for understanding and baring my soul to one of my best friends, he asked me a question that forced me to get very honest about the condition of my heart.
“What are you afraid of losing?” he asked.
After a bit of back and forth, I determined I really wasn’t afraid of losing a client or even losing money. However, my next statement would pull back the curtain and expose what had been pushing the buttons and pulling the strings in my heart for years.
“I guess if this whole thing folds up, I’ll just have to go get a job at Home Depot or something,” I said.
“And what’s wrong with working at Home Depot?” he replied.
BAM! There it was. Faster than you could say “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, the pride and entitlement that I had glossed over for years came shooting to the surface.
“I think career and success have become idols in your heart,” my friend gracefully stated.
Everyone needs a friend like that.
Looking back, God gave me the grace in that moment to understand exactly what he was saying and to know he was right. As my friend began to interject some truth into my situation, I realized pride had produced an idol of success in my heart. I also realized that I wasn’t nearly as concerned about failing privately as I was failing publicly. I fail privately much better than publicly because my pride and image aren’t at stake when I fail behind closed doors.
That began a breaking process in my life that was long overdue yet somehow right on time. I carried on with my career, somewhat reluctantly, got a hold of some powerful teaching about idolatry in our heart and culture and started walking it out.
Everything came to a head in January of this year when I was invited (i.e. forced) to face the motivations of my heart once again. But this time it was different. This time God took me much, much deeper and showed me the depth to which my heart looked to my career for my sense of worth, acceptance, approval and ultimate identity. It shook me to the core and my heart was wrecked.
Practically overnight I went from pursuing an 8-year long career to wanting absolutely nothing to do with it. In fact, the very thought of continuing to pursue this particular line of work made me want to run for the hills; not because it was particularly wicked, but because it was deceptively good and I now identified it with everything I didn’t want to be anymore.
Since then God has been strategically deconstructing my heart, only to begin to reassemble it His way. This journey has landed me in the middle of a huge heart and life realignment that is reshaping how I see and process pretty much everything. It has been the single most painful yet beautiful thing I have ever experienced.
I’ve been learning what it means to let go and what it means to embrace and pursue. One day in particular I broke, hard, as if I was mourning. I was mourning the death of my dream for myself and of the person I thought I had to be in order to prop that dream up. In exchange, I am learning to embrace God’s dream for me.
So what does this look like on a practical, day-to-day level? What do you do when everything changes and what you were pursuing before suddenly has no value to you? I’m trying to figure that out. At this very moment I have absolutely no idea what is next for me. I have walked away from the career I have pursued for the past 8 years. It’s actually been quite challenging in many ways, but I knew it was what I had to do. When the gravity of the condition of heart fully hit me, I knew I had to lay this down. My heart needed a detox.
For the past couple months I have been pursuing a “regular” job; a new environment and some balance for my life. There have been many moments where that has been hard, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the journey. I’ve even applied to work at Home Depot. 😀
For me, redemption has come, or should I say is coming, through the process of dying to the things I thought gave me value and defined me. It is very true that I allowed my heart to look to and find its worth in my career instead of in Christ.
For a long time, I also used my career as a cop-out as to why I wasn’t in a relationship or married. “There is just so much happening in my life and I travel all the time. It just wouldn’t be fair to a woman and I wouldn’t be able to give the relationship the time and focus it really deserves.” Yeah, I used to actually say that. The truth is my parents divorced 8 years ago, just before I was offered my first job in my line of work. So for pretty much the past 8 years I have been afraid of the idea of a relationship because of the possibility it might end up like my parents’ did, and instead I dove into my career. That fear created an idol of pride and self-sufficiency and I looked to my career to love me while all my single friends got married and had children. I’m keenly aware that “family” can easily be an idol as well, but for the first time in my life I’m not afraid.
What I do know is I am learning what it means to trust God for my life and my heart, not just my stuff. God is more than Jehovah-Jireh, my provider, my rent-payer, but He is Jesus The Christ, the ultimate provision for my wicked and whorish heart.
As I open my eyes each morning, I am greeted with looming uncertainty of what the day will bring, yet my heart has never felt more free and steadfast. I’m learning to anchor my heart in Christ and trust God in 24 hour, and sometimes 60 minute, increments. In many ways, I’ve never felt more broken, while in others, I’ve never felt more whole.
Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend. Psalm 5:3 (MSG)
Are all the idols gone? No. But knowing what my heart is prone to reach for and bow to is the biggest part of the battle. It is the battle for the affections of my heart and it is a battle I will fight every day of my life.
Today is Good Friday, when we observe and remember the crucifixion of Jesus. It’s interesting to me that everyone says they want to “be like Jesus” and they want the will of God for their life, but lest we forget the will of God for Jesus was the cross.
Today is a timely reminder that in God’s playbook, winning often looks like losing. The cross certainly didn’t look like a victory, but to fully understand the purpose of the cross, you have to be able to both see it and see past it. And so it is with whatever situation you are walking through right now. Without the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection to celebrate.
Still want to be like Jesus?