In Jeremiah 2, the words are harsh. The Lord asks what the people found wrong with God that made them go after other things. The verse says that because they went after worthlessness, they became worthless. This is blunt. This is harsh. This is difficult to swallow.
It is hard to read this truth and feel any grace. The reason the people had become worthless is because they were deep in idolatry. They could not be used by God for His glory if they were running after other things. It is difficult for you to selfishly and foolishly run toward something in place of God and be used by God for great things for His glory. At the end of the day, not only is it a choice that will be regrettable, but it is also very unfruitful.
Verse 11 makes it clear that this way of living does not profit. The people, His people (note “my people”), decided to cast aside their specialness. They were a chosen people. They cast it aside for something else. The something else was not better. Rather, this action caused them to settle for something that would lead them nowhere good, nowhere they would want to be if they knew the truth. Today, look within. Are you useful? Are you fixated on other things? Imagine what God can do through you for His glory.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.’” – Jeremiah 2:5, 11 [ESV]
When my kids were smaller they enjoyed playing with sidewalk chalk, drawing their own special creations. We would spend hours outlining our hands, capturing the image of a dog, and writing names. The chalk images and text would stay there for a few days, getting lighter as the time passed by. Sometimes the rain would come and our entire day’s work was gone in an instant, almost like we were never there at all.
The real issue is that although the chalk wipes away, the image is still imprinted in our minds. I can still see some of our sketches. I can picture the smiles on their faces. I can smell the air and even feel the sun beating down upon us. I can hear their laughter. All I need to do is “see” that image in my mind and it all comes back to me like I am there right at this moment.
To me, the purpose of the chalk is that it is making a mark on something. The kids are fascinated about making marks on the pavement. They are leaving their own little imprints. As some get older, they may even make their little marks with graffiti as well. What it all comes down to is leaving a mark.
A mark isn’t simply something that is engraved into a wooden park bench that says “Brian loves Sally.” A mark isn’t merely black spray paint letting it be known that “Tommy was here” at the bridge underpass. A mark may not even be the scribble a toddler leaves on a parent’s refrigerator. I am not talking about those marks at all.
I am talking about meaning. I am talking about purpose. I am talking about something that will be left behind showing that you did something good and you left a mark in someone’s life. A mark is when you touch someone’s life and they are forever changed for the better.
This past weekend I attended a memorial for a dear brother in Christ. He left so many marks on so many lives. The church was filled with individuals united by one purpose– to celebrate his life. He taught some people the importance of prayer. He taught some others to not discard burnt cookies because there is value in everything. He showed us by example. He had a vision to share the Gospel with anyone his path crossed. He served others. He sacrificed. He did everything with love. He surely left one beautiful mark.
The time we have we are uncertain, but we know we are to put it to good use. We know we are to give our lives to Christ. We are to have a vision for our lives with God’s purpose in mind. Andy Stanley wrote, “A carefully planted vision, like a seed, grows to take on a life and shape of its own. Long after the sower is gone, the seed continues to grow” (“Visioneering” 114). My question today is are you allowing God to direct your path, so that His purpose for your life is met? He created you to leave a mark– a mark for His kingdom. It is a mark that does not wash away.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:12-14 [NIV]