Links Daily Devotional

Removing the High Places

He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. (2 Chronicles 14:4-5, NIV)

Earlier this fall, my husband and I attended a football game at the University of Oklahoma. I know this is supposed to be about golf, but bear with me. I always learn so much from other parts of my life, because I play golf so much that sometimes the lessons aren’t as visible. Having my nose to the tree can make me blind to the forest. So back to football…

There were a few kids sitting right in front of us, and as we got to talking we found out that they were high school football players, dreaming of one day playing for the Sooners. One of them said, “Man, if I could just touch that field!” It was cute how much reverence they had for Oklahoma, extending even to the field and the stadium. But my husband knows by his own experience (as a former Sooner himself) that it is just grass, and that reaching the dream can’t fulfill that God-shaped hole we all have. Maybe living the dream will distract the heart for a few weeks or months, especially in the elation that sports victories bring.

As we were discussing this very topic, I felt convicted about some “high places” that I revere in my life. Anyone ever dreamed of playing Augusta? Of driving up Magnolia lane? How about playing golf at St. Andrews? Pebble Beach? (I am leaving some out, for sure.) All are gems that God has inspired people to fashion from His own creation. I believe praising God for the wonderful things His hands have made is very good, and to desire to experience those things is also not a problem. But sometimes we can fall into the trap of worshipping the created thing instead of the Creator (Romans 1: 25). How do we know we worship the created thing? When we idolize it, get distracted by it, when it steals our peace, and when we believe it will satisfy us beyond our relationship with God.

Have you ever wondered why U.S. Open qualifying is so tough? Not only do you face a demanding course setup, but it is so easy to be distracted by thinking about playing the Open itself—the prestige of the event and on a course that will be perfectly manicured: “If we only could swing on that grass!”

How about a club championship? Ever been distracted by what it would be like to have your name on that plaque in the clubhouse? Or at the office, at school, or at church? There are so many places and things that hold “prestige” in our lives!

We have to be aware so that the enemy might not outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11). Jesus didn’t (and still doesn’t) care about prestige or perfect grass. He was born in a manger, kept unlikely company and died on a cross, scorned. King Asa sought God and removed the high places. The result was peace. Christ also promises us peace as a gift when we receive Him (John 14:27), forsaking lesser things.

I have heard that we should make God our first priority in our “to-do” list of life, but my husband, with his silly sense of humor, says “Don’t put God first; let Him be in everything!” I guess if God is in and above everything, then He is first!

Isabelle Beisiegel

November 15, 2011

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