You are sitting at a table across from a hunchback man with gnarled knuckles and mangled skin who is carving small figurines from blocks of wood.

“What are you doing?” you ask, uncomfortable.

The man doesn’t look up as he continues his work. He finally puts a small statuette upon the table before you. Without looking up, he says as he points to the figurine, “This one is jealousy.” He reaches to his right and takes another block of wood and begins to whittle.

You squirm slightly in the metal chair, wondering what is going on. Looking around the room, you notice there are no windows and no doors. “Where am I?” you ask, now even more uncomfortable. The man doesn’t look up as he continues his work. “You are exactly where you have placed yourself.” He puts the second statuette upon the table beside jealousy. Without looking up he says as he points, “This one is bitterness.”

You remain in the chair as he continues to work. The room seems to grow colder with each sound of a new statuette being placed in line, one after the other. When the man is out of wood he slowly points to each statuette and calls them by name, “Jealousy… Bitterness… Pain.…Worry…Entitlement…Control.”

“What? Who are you?” you ask, confused but understanding with each word spoken the man voices powerful familiarity into your life. The man, too bent in form to look you in eye, says with a bowed head, “These are your idols. Scripture says, ‘You shall have no other god before me.’”

“Idols? Come on now. Idols are like golden calves, money, wishing I was some other person entirely. I’m not like that. I’m pretty good with who I am. I don’t own any golden farm animals, and I’m fairly generous with the money I have.”

“An idol is anything or anyone you begin to focus on more than me – anything or anyone which separates you from me as your primary love.” As he begins to lean back in his chair, his body slowly straightens; his skin and knuckles smooth...all except an area around his hands. You notice now the markings…the scars.

He points again to your idols: “These idols steal you from me. They try to kill and destroy your trust in me. Do not forget your first love. Remember, I came to give life, so that you may have it to the full. What is before you separates you from a full life.”

You begin to cry. “But my pain! You don’t know.” You stop as you look at Jesus’ scars. You begin to pound upon the table in frustration. “I don’t know what to do! I don’t have the answers!” As you pound, the idols begin to topple off the table…one…by…one.

You are left alone with Jesus sitting across from you; nothing separating you from His reach.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus says.

Matthew 16:24, NIV: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”

SGLY, dear readers. (Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian writer, an opinion columnist and a fine art photographer. To submit feedback on SGLY or to offer a specific topic idea, please contact Chartier at news@amtrib.com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook.com/tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.