Ever see an actual scarecrow in a field? Maybe not in a farmer’s 30-acre, machine-cultivated fields, but more so in smaller residential gardens. I’ve seen various kinds of animal deterrents when gardeners are trying to preserve their hard work: Metal pie tins make noise in the breeze. Netting keeps out birds and deer. Certain sprays are supposed to evoke the presence of wild carnivorous animals and deter their potential prey. Still, most gardeners seem to concede that their vegetables are not yet impervious to uninvited dinner guests, as long as the food remains in the garden.
I came across this verse the other day:
Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
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.”
Jeremiah 10:5 NIV
Whether or not a scarecrow does any good, it is clear that it is just a stationary object. A wise bird knows that the scarecrow can’t actually do anything, and feasts on cucumbers. That is, the farmer may want to scare off animals, but scarecrow has no real power except the illusion that it projects. It can only be effective if animals are lured into believing the lie: that the scarecrow is actually a person. It’s power lies only in deception: the false appearance of power.
Obviously, investing our lives into a powerless, false image isn’t going to turn out well. We – or others – may delude ourselves into thinking that houses or money or cars will save us. We may worship other “things” to the point of idolatry. As it turns out, though, they have no real power at all.
So, we ask ourselves, “What do I put my trust in?”
Followers of Jesus would probably say that we trust in God. (In fact, that is the motto of my country1.) In reality, though, does our “stuff” sometimes compete for that role? Does our technology try to claim the role of the first place we look for solutions? Isn’t it all too easy to get caught up in the feigned “security” that a surplus of food, clothing, money, or possessions brings?
Yet, we still get tempted to trust in inanimate objects. Somehow, we feel better when we have on clean socks (although that might be for other reasons), a full tank of gasoline in our car, or some extra money in our wallet. In fact, I understand; after all, I sometimes fall into that trap, as well.
I’m not opposed to using the good things that God has provided us. When I have a question about something, I don’t mind looking up more information online on my computer, tablet, or smartphone, and I don’t think that means I trust God any less. I enjoy sleeping in my own bed, and being able to pay the bills. However, none of those things will fundamentally give me purpose, save me from my sins, or change my life for eternity.
May we not put our ultimate faith in things that we have to carry around. May we instead trust the One who carries us through life, and placed us where we are in the first place! Otherwise, we may as well put our trust in “scarecrows”.