Worshipping Scarecrows

May 17, 2012
by Philip Huber

Jeremiah 10:5 – Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good. (NIV)

A scarecrow is like a surrogate farmer, erected in a field to guard the crop when the farmer is away. Deceptively similar in appearance to its flesh-and-bone counterpart, it is an adequate deterrent for dim-witted pests. But in truth, it is an impotent protector. Its limbs hang lifeless, and its mouth is silent. It is dependent on a pole to keep it erect. Its work amounts to idle passivity. It is an illusion of substance. In truth, it can do no harm — or good. It can do nothing but hang limp from a stand. Imagine crows perched on the outstretched arms of a scarecrow in the field, undeterred by this supposed guardian. Such were the idols of the nations surrounding ancient Israel.

But the rebuke carries across the generations into my own day. It's a suitable depiction of the idols in my own life, the things I trust in place of God. They are surrogates that may, for a time, hold pests at bay. I may, for example, place my confidence in a steady paycheck because it offers me a feeling of security, at least on the surface. I trust in that weekly deposit to meet my needs for food, clothing, and shelter. But my misplaced confidence is shaken by an unexpected expense, a downturn in the economy, a round of layoffs at my company. What I thought to be of substance turns out to be full of hay.

Instead of a surrogate, I'm invited to trust the true farmer, whose work is not idle passivity, but mighty protection. He will feed me like the birds and clothe me like the flowers. He will cultivate my life toward fruitfulness.

Prayer: Lord, reveal the idols in our hearts and help us to renounce them. May we trust You as the true farmer, cultivating our souls. Amen.

About the author:

Philip Huber <pandshuber@juno.com>
Baldwinsville, New York, USA

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