I have a squid embedded in my heart.

Not literally, of course. That would be weird.

Figuratively, though, sin and its evidence in our lives acts much like this creepy cephalopod.

Picture from science20.com.

Picture from science20.com.

If I simply chop off specific behaviors, or tentacles of the squid, but don’t address the source, or the head, the squid will simply regenerate new and more tentacles, like this picture.

If we only deal with what sin is producing, and not what’s producing it, we’re going to continue to have problems.

As I shared last week (see Spare the Best, Lose the Rest), the Lord has been exposing habits and affections He wants to change in me. Even as He gives me eyes to see, my flesh is fighting. I find myself in a Galatians 5:17 stalemate: my flesh lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against my flesh, with the two being contrary to one another so that I don’t do what I wish to do.

In asking God what to do, the question continually lingering in the back of my mind, He’s been answering me with scripture as I go about daily tasks that require my attention but not my thought.

It is in one of these moments that He exposed my squid and showed me that the habits and affections He’s addressing are tentacles from a single source: idolatry.

“Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Samuel 15:23). After reading Samuel’s words to Saul last week, they are stuck in my spirit like peanut butter to the roof of my mouth: It takes time to work the pasty nut spread completely free, but if you’re like me and love peanut butter (especially Peter Pan smooth straight off the spoon), the effort is worth it because it tastes so good.

As God’s conviction sticks with me, and as I work through it with Him, continually conversing and surrendering my questions and resistance, it feels good to know I’m depending on Him, and His faithfulness will see me through and see me free.

So my squid is idolatry, and if I had to name its species, it would be pleasure: whatever pleases me.

To be honest, I hate admitting that I find myself in this spiritual tug-of-war. I’d love to say I’m past all this and don’t struggle at all, but I’d be lying, which is a whole different species of squid, and I’m thinking there’s only room for one right now.

Sometimes our squids hide, just under the surface, where they can’t be seen. Most of us know they’re there, but maybe they’re not creating enough pain in our lives. They’re manageable, we think.

But then they grow. A giant squid can grow to forty-six feet. The thought of an invertebrate that size terrifies me!

My squid’s tentacles surfaced as my drive to please myself with my time, shopping, and image  began to cause discomfort,  discontentment, and quite honestly, frustration for other people, signaling that there is something wrong in my heart.

For example, I teach writing to a group of kids in our homeschool co-op. When it comes to grading, I procrastinate terribly. Even though I’m determined to get it done at the beginning of every week, I always find something I’d rather do. Then on Sunday, when I should be resting and relaxing with my family, I’m holed up in my office grading. I’m creating my own misery, and my family is suffering.

What I want to enjoy in the moment takes priority over grading, which is what I’m supposed to be doing. I want to do what I want to do more than what I need to do, so I indulge myself.

Then there’s spending. Let me just say, shopping makes me happy! I have a daughter who is wired just like me, and when we walk into the mall, everything just seems to be right with the world. The crazy thing for me is it can be groceries, clothes, shoes, office supplies, craft stuff. Whatever!

It’s a problem, not in the sense that I spend what we don’t have, but in the sense that I spend without thought of what God might think is a better use of His resources. It’s a matter of indulgence, really, buying what I want when I want it because I want it.  I’m not saying that shopping in and of itself is wrong, but the Lord is pricking my conscience and convicting my heart that it’s reached a point of gluttony for me, and He has another way.

So you get the idea. Regardless of how the tentacles appear in my life, the bottom line is this: I want what I want, when I want it, the way I want it!

No sacrifice.

No discomfort.

This idol needs to be kicked off the throne of my heart! And the coolest thing is God pointed me to two stories in His word that offer us great hope that gods (little “g”) don’t stand a chance against God (big “G”). I can’t wait to share what God showed me with you Thursday.

Lord, You are our hope, no matter what we face in our lives. Thank You for Your mercy, faithfulness, and goodness that sustains us as we stumble in our efforts to become more wholly Yours today.