It’s impossible to miss. From anywhere along the coastline, the 67-meter (220 feet) “Lady Buddha” in Da Nang, Vietnam looms even larger than the familiar “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — a “mere” 38 meters (125 feet) in comparison. And so, during our brief stay in this city she has greeted me every morning as I’ve looked out our hotel window.
“Lady Buddha” more accurately represents the Goddess of Mercy, one of the most-loved figures in Buddhism. She is said to have the power to assist those who pray to her. Locals believe that the statue, which faces the sea, watches over fishermen and protects the city from typhoons. She is seen as a sort of savior, as her name in various languages means “one who hears the sounds of the world.”
Interesting. Inciteful. Even in a part of the world that embraces another god, there appears to be an innate sense of looking to someone/something else to ask for help, protection. Someone/something to hear our heart cries, our inner thoughts and yearnings.
As a Christ-follower, that someone/something is a living God — not a mere statue made of out stone. In Old Testament times, a man named Isaiah said that “All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit.” (Isaiah 44:9) The Psalmist went on to say, “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)
It’s easy for me to realize that Lady B doesn’t have the power, the capacity to answer my prayers or to be my protector, my savior. And yet her presence has made me ask myself…
What might be idols in my life???
It hits a bit too close to home when I realize that I, too, have other “things” that subtly become where I place my hope, other people that supplant God in terms of importance. Ouch. That hurts.
And isn’t it “ironic” that just last week I wrote about hope??? About how “hope is based on a person, not on our circumstances, not on other people, not on optimism, not on any effort we can conjure up.” It seems that frequently God gives me a pop quiz soon after teaching me a lesson to see if I really got the point!
So… what are some idols that creep into my life? Things like over-emphasizing human efficiency. Being more concerned with how things look than is necessary. Being too concerned with what other people think/being a people-pleaser. Becoming dependent on my “devices” as evidenced by frustration when internet is slow or something doesn’t work! And… even putting my trust in other people more than God, which is a recipe for disappointment.
I’m so very thankful for this view out my window. Why? Because it’s a visible reminder that I need to daily, moment-by-moment “fix my gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Hebrews 11:1 ... as expressed in different translations....
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV)
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (NLT)
Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. (TPT)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. (MSG)
Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality -- faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. (AMP)
Those “things that cannot be seen” keep pointing me to Jesus. He is a living savior, One who listens to my prayers and protects me, One who isn’t a “sort of savior” but rather the One who gave His life for me so that I have a real savior. He has eyes that DO see and ears that DO hear. His voice has the power to calm the sea. He is all that I need!
Wherever you may be in understanding who Jesus is, whatever idols may be vying for your attention… may we come alongside one another so that together we can have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”