I have been reading the story of Joash in the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 24). He started his reign when he was the 7 years old and did what was right in God's eyes as long as Jehoida the priest was there to mentor him. He was determined to renovate the temple and collected money from all the people who willingly gave what they had to restore it. I often heard this story in Sunday School and vividly remember the picture of a giant chest outside the temple with people tossing gold coins into it. One thing we were never told as impressionable children was the end of Joash's story. After Jehoida the priest died, things fell apart. Joash listened to some bad advice and neglected the temple, instead taking up with the cult of sex goddesses. When Jehoida's son tried to tell him this was a bad idea, Joash, had him murdered! It is no surprise that a year later Joash's army was wiped out and Joash was killed by some of his own servants. Turning your back on God brings one to a dead end, literally.
I was trying to figure out why Joash ended so badly when he started so well, and it seems to be quite clear that his reliance on Jehoida to guide him never matured past that into a relationship with and reliance on God. When Jehoida died, Joash listened to the strong voice of the people of the land and made all the wrong decisions because he was easily swayed by persuasive talk. He had always listened to the confident voice of his guide and mentor, so after Jehoida's death, Joash just replaced one guiding voice with another without exercising any discernment. He had not embraced the godly principles Jehoida demonstrated as his own. It is good to be mentored, but at some point, we must take responsibility for our own spiritual growth and stop placing our confidence in a person to direct us - we must learn to rely on God. We must also be able to recognise godliness from ungodliness and have the courage to stand up for the right thing, no matter how unpopular.
I want to be a true disciple and that means not always remaining a follower, but leading out when the need arises and being able to hear God's voice louder than all the rest.
This photo is an ice sculpture of an angel in Montreal's old port, February 21, 2007.