Written by Cale Baker
Lent has been a time of reorienting, and specifically, I’ve found God reorienting my heart towards giving up things that aren’t really mine.
Part of the human condition seems tied to our innate tendency to try to make everything our own. As children, we never seem to share our toy because “it’s mine.” When we grow up, our interests change, but our tendency to possess stays the same. We have a good idea, and think that it’s our idea and that we’re wise. We build something, and we claim our construction as our own. We get a new job, and suddenly it becomes my job and no one else’s.
For the last year or so, I’ve been planning for a big school project, and I just started working on the proposal. It didn’t take long to get into the process and realize I’ve been trying to take hold of this project as my own; I want my ideas to come together beautifully into a nicely packaged creation that I’ll be able to call mine.
When we become possessive over our actions and creations, our hearts start to warp, and our identity gets tangled with all the wrong things. We start to feel a deep pressure to continue creating, to continue having wise ideas, to continue thriving in our jobs. These actions and creations become our own little gods, and we lost sight of who we are and why we’re doing these things in the first place. To be clear, I’m not trying to downplay the fact that our actions and creations are a central part of our individual identities. But, I am saying that I have been making it a habit of possessing my actions creations and orienting my heart to these ends, instead of orienting my heart to a heavenly end.
I was reading Deuteronomy 6, and God helped use His words to reorient my heart to the God who holds all things in His hands. He’s teaching me to let go of my creations because they’re not really mine to hold. The beginning of Deuteronomy 6 urges the people of Israel to love the LORD their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then, the chapter moves into what God wanted for Israel when they moved into the Promised Land:
Deuteronomy 6:10-15 “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
God reminds the Israelites that though He brings them into the Promised Land, everything there was built and fostered by others. Though he gives them the land, he urges them to remember Who brought them into the land, and Who the land truly belongs to. Much of Israel’s narrative thus far has been aimed at getting the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land; yet, God urges the Israelites not to orient their hearts to the land. Instead, he urges them to orient their hearts to Him, and Him alone.
God has given me certain responsibilities in which I do indeed get to create, but I’ve been orienting my heart in such a way that I’ve tried to make those creations mine. God is showing me that they’re not really mine. They’re His, and I get to be a part of the process.