My wife and I are a part of a weekly parenting study/discussion group going through the excellent book Parenting Your Infant/Toddler by the Spirit. At one point in our last reading, the author made a statement that really leaped out at me. While I don’t have the exact quote on hand, I’ve heard a similar sentiment before, and it is this:

What you behold, you become.

What are you lookin’ at?

When I was a child, I looked up to my parents. As time went by, I began to look up to other figures. Musicians I admired. Inventors that impressed me. As my faith in God began to blossom about eight years ago and I started attending church gatherings, I looked up to “godly” men and women in the church, or preachers with podcasts or books to their credit.

It was a slow sequence of events in my life, painful and at times cataclysmic,  that awakened me to the reality that I was putting my trust in people and not in God. I wasn’t heeding the words of the psalmist when he wrote:

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.  —Psalm 146:2-5 NLT

If you just go with the flow, the flow will lead to ruin.

This morning, as I was meditating on the famous verse “the Lord is my Shepherd,” it occurred to me that there are two very important truths encapsulated in this simple saying.

  • It is the Lord, and Him alone, who is my shepherd. If I am following the voice of another, if I am being led in a direction that is contrary to God’s will for my life, then I am allowing other influences to usurp God’s authority over my life that He so rightly deserves.
  • The Lord is not a dictator or a malevolent ruler, nor is He a distant being or impersonal force. The language of the “shepherd” presents an image of someone who deeply cares about the welfare of those he cares for: making sure they are safe and well-fed, watching out for predators who might attack and destroy the flock.

When I am not looking to the Lord as my shepherd (or I am too proud to admit I bear a certain resemblance to a sheep), I am inevitably going to be following the herd. And herd mentality rarely works out for the best.

  • Herds follow any celebrity that walks into their midst.
  • Herds chase after the latest fad.
  • Herds admire what’s shiny and eye-catching.
  • Herds value conformity and dislike individual thought.
  • Herds shift directions on a whim, when spooked or impeded in their way, and have no sense of the ultimate destination.

It’s so easy for us as human beings to claim one minute: “I have a mind of my own. I don’t take anybody’s word for it. I’m smart, I tell you! Smart!” – and then turn around the next minute and start blindly following the leading, teaching, or culture of a powerful person. I’ve done this. We all do, from time to time! And that can be a dangerous thing, because, well, because:

What you behold, you become.

Dare to behold God and follow Him only.

God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His Word is truth everlasting. His love for us never fails. At the end of my life, when friends and family gather around and speak of the legacy of my life, here’s what I don’t want them to be saying:

“Jared was such a cool dude. I mean, every time a new book or a new philosophy came out, he was all over it. In fact, from one day to the next, you’d never know what new thing he’d believe next. Jared was such a free spirit too! His opinions about what’s right and wrong were constantly in flux. He didn’t really appreciate anybody who cared about truth or morality. Too stifling, too stodgy for him! I hope to live out the rest of my life caring about all the things Jared cared about, which, um, was, um, a lot of different stuff.”

I’d much prefer a legacy like this:

“Jared was such a cool dude. He put a lot of effort into seeking the truth about a matter, even when it was unpopular to do so. He desired to put God at the center of his life and lead his family according to what God was saying through the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. He was concerned about who would come after him, and spent time and money building others up, whether in business, ministry, or friendships. Jared was open to new ideas and new interpretations, but he always went back to God to discern His heart before charging ahead. I hope to have the same thirst for wisdom and righteousness in my own life.”

What legacy do you want for your life? Who are you looking up to? What do you wish to become? Finding the answers to these questions might just dramatically transform your life.