Sunday, September 18, 2011

American Idols


You just thought I was going to write a blog bashing a TV show, right?


Really, I wanted to share something that has been one of those "just-in-time" Holy Spirit revelations for me. I am so thankful that God in his mercy has spoken and still speaks, or I would be woefully lost.

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking about idols.

I live in a nation that's fully given to them. I see them every day. I hear the stories of fear that motivate people to offer sacrifices to spirits because they're afraid. I have also heard of wonderful deliverance from these same spirits, and how God has shown them that with Jesus they don't have to fear.

For me, I am not tempted to carve an image and bow down to it like the Israelites did. So I have been thinking a lot about how this applies to me.

It hit me from another angle a few nights later. A political debate, of all things. I realized that trusting in the system would never bring me happiness, because its broken. Healthcare: broken, Insurance: broken, Justice: broken, Social net: broken. My government is powerless to give me everything I need. If I trust in it to bring me happiness, the only thing I can count on is disappointment and frustration.

Then I realized that trusting in something like insurance or social security to take care of me and provide for me would be foolish. Putting my hope, faith, and trust in a government would be, say, an idol. I can get angry at the system or be fearful of the lack of security it provides, but none of these things will help me.


“And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (1 Sa 12:21)

A few days after that, my husband left on business. I started to wonder why I was so content when he was gone (though missing him), but sometimes less content when he's here. I knew there had to be a deeper answer than just grace (which I was definitely feeling at the time).

I saw how I have set him up to be the one who fulfills and provides for me, and when he’s here I am tempted to be angry at him when I am not happy or when he doesn’t do what I think is best for me. But God in his mercy has given me a glimpse what life is like without him. To reveal what its like not to depend on him. When I don’t depend on him, I am free to really enjoy him, and see what he does for me as a grace from God.

I see how its that way for a lot of things in my life—-things I put my trust in. My bank account, my kids, my parents, my friends, the American social net, other drivers, insurance, law, good looks, the words of others, my personality, even my reputation.

When these things fail, how come I am tempted to feel so betrayed?

My idol gave out on me.

Now, I should know better than to trust in things that are seen, but why is this such a big deal for me?

And in the midst of all of this I keep running across the scripture "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (Jonah 2:8).

I lose the glimpses of grace when I chose to trust in anything but him.

I think from this I have developed an operating definition for myself (please comment below if you can help me refine it). An idol is something that I trust in to make me whole, happy, healthy, and ultimately to bring me salvation from the evils I face.

So again, this past week I was faced with a decision.

While we were doing school, my youngest learned how to climb out of his pack-n-play (first time ever) and joyfully used his freedom to make a run for it right into a room with newly-mopped floors. All my kids have stories of huge bumps on their heads or stitches from the unforgiving tile, but after his forehead hit, it was different.

He started acting really funny.

Sleepy. Out of it.

After about an hour and a half I started to think we should go to the hospital. I look in the rear-view mirror and I see him staring at seemingly nothing. I yell his name and he doesn’t move. I rush in, and as I was checking in, my son threw up all over me. At this point I didn’t know what was going to happen or if he was ok, and I was alone with my sweet little boy in the emergency room, who was barely conscious.

And He reminds me of what I have been learning. “Will you be ok if something is terribly wrong, even if death takes him?”

And from the depths of my soul, I thought, “I trust you Lord. You know what’s best for me. I will not cling to my children and forfeit your grace.”

It was powerful. And God set it all up. If I hadn’t been thinking about idol worship “randomly," hadn’t watched that political debate, if I hadn’t been reading through Jonah and 1 Samuel in my Bible reading plan, if my husband hadn’t gone out of town, I probably would have been a basketcase in the ER. But He knew what I needed.

He set me up to receive his grace and help in my time of need.

So, I leave that story with you. My American idols are very real, and very deceptive. Love can turn into entitlement, wealth turns to fear, preparation for the future turns to anxiety, and all in an instant.

I am having to continually ask myself, "What am I putting my trust in?"

And so for you, how have the things of this world failed you? And how do you fix your eyes on the unseen?

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