Husband. Running. TV. Movies. Sleep. Friends. Activities. Family. Education. Job.
Idols. All of them. Alone, they do not qualify. But my love of them over my love of God automatically puts them into idol worship category.
The Israelites had a golden calf, I’ve got an iPhone.
The Israelites had the Asherah, I’ve got an amazing husband.
The Israelites had high places. I’ve got the goal of owning a house.
In the past couple of weeks, the Lord has been whispering my name, beckoning me back to intimacy with Himself. He has been revealing my divided heart; my pull towards these distractions. In and of themselves these are not bad things. My husband is a gift from the Lord. Exercise is a good habit for a healthy lifestyle. TV and movies are quite frankly a waste of time, but they sure are entertaining. Sleep is necessary for your body to function. Family and friends and activities are fun and good blessings from God. But ohh how they steal my affection. Oh how my intimacy with the Lord takes the backseat when I give another modern day idol all my attention.
In the first four months of 2012, my Bible study group did a series on the Kings and Prophets. Theme? An undivided heart. It’s astounding how many kings allowed their hearts to become divided. (Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Abijah, Ahab, Baasha, Ahaziah, etc.) These kings led the Israelites in rebellion. And what’s even more incredible is the way the Israelites knew the Lord, yet constantly forgot where He had brought them from. They constantly turned themselves over to idol worship. The Lord reminded them day in and day out, “Do not forget… Remember.” There were times I found myself practically yelling at the pages of my Bible asking them how they could be so dumb to forget the Lord again.
Yet, here I am. A modern day Israelite. Finding my heart divided way more often than I’d like to admit. I am torn and distracted by the nonsense of this world. By good things. By gifts from God. But they steal my affection from Jesus. And that’s the bottom line of idol worship. Things and people taking precedence over Christ alone. When this happens, I struggle my way back to the feet of Jesus. Sometimes I feel like He has to make me so desperate to realize my need for Him again. It’s like I have to see first hand over and over again how the distractions will never satisfy. Worshiping creation rather than the Creator was never its intended purpose.
The other night I was just sitting in the floor with my open Bible and a journal, surrendering myself again, when the LORD led me to Isaiah 9. Three times in this chapter the Word says, “In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out. (v. 12, 17, 21)” In spite of all the Israelites wandering, the LORD was still angry, but He still stretched out His hand. Justice and mercy. Holiness and compassion. Beautifully intertwined. Despite all of my wandering, the LORD still requires justice for my wayward heart, which He poured out on Jesus. But He is also there showing mercy, reaching out His hand, just as He’s done with Jesus. The Gospel once again intrudes my daily life. And for that I am eternally grateful.
It is my prayer that I will be faithful as Christ is faithful to me. Even though I know I’ll fall short, 2 Timothy 2:11-13 comes to mind:
“It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.“
I know I’ll come to this place again and again throughout the course of my life. As much as I couldn’t understand the Israelites, I know that I’m very similar to them. My hope is that Christ would so richly indwell me and that I would cultivate intimacy with Him continually, so that when these times arise, it would be few and far between, less like a prodigal son, and more like a young daughter returning to her Daddy’s arms just to be as close as she possibly can be.