The last year has been a hard one when dealing with idolatry. It was sneaky but it was present in almost every facet of my life and it wasn’t until it smashed me in the face that I realised I needed to deal with it.
My dream job when I left my hometown and headed to university was to become a special ed teacher. I saw great value in education and the impact that it had on so many lives. Teachers were a central, if underappreciated resource, and good ones who wanted to work rural were hard to find. Unbeknownst to many people though, is that special education often requires an undergraduate teaching qualification AND postgraduate coursework. It’s at least a five year commitment.
When I headed to university, my degree was my ticket away from a pretty hectic situation. Very few people left with purpose in my hometown, and even less actually stuck it out. I saw university and the career that came after as a means of freeing me and better circumstances.
Over the course of that five years, I enjoyed my coursework and placements. I loved teaching and I loved it’s impact. Often the struggle of the lesson was worth the pay-off. I enjoyed the challenge and the difference of every day.
I argued for its value and what it represented.
I always sought to make decisions which acknowledged God as sovereign, and didn’t place teaching first. But the creep of my sinfulness was silent. I didn’t know that I wasn’t wholeheartedly putting God first.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on. – Proverbs 16: 25-26
The Ugly Head
I began to discuss the idea of overseas mission using my teaching degree and decided to go to a conference where we looked at pursuing ministry and mission. I had been to the conference before, and it seemed a good place to kick start that thought process. The questions that we considered were reasonably the same as the year before. But then someone asked:
Are you living a life in view of Christ and judgement day?
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” – Acts 17: 29-31
What did that mean? Of course I was. Until I realised I wasn’t.
I was investing a significant amount of time and energy into my “dream job.” I was working hard at being a valuable teacher rather than a holy people saved by God. The idea of judgement hadn’t really played into how I viewed the world or prioritising people who weren’t yet on the Jesus boat. I was living a life in view of being a teacher; not Christ. Not the reality of the unsaved. And certainly not judgement day.
My reservations about ministry and mission were because I didn’t want to give up working in a rural setting as a teacher. I had a balance of worth – one side was the Gospel, and the other was education.
God was not number one.
Even if I make wise decisions for God, a balancing act of loves isn’t good enough. It’s idolatry.
All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. – Isaiah 44: 9-11
My Heart Now
I still love teaching and working with people who have disabilities. I’m still finishing my degree and doing my coursework with honest effort. But my anxieties over work are not the same.
It was hard moving past what people would think if I didn’t go into something I’d spent so long working towards. Yet, I’m not consumed by the need to fulfill my dream job and what will happen if I don’t, because it won’t actually matter on judgement day.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. – 2 Corinthians 5: 1 – 3