Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Idols We Serve

God has been showing me the idols myself and my family serve.  It's crazy how easy it is for something good, to take the place of God in one's life.  Satan is so subtle about it, he's downright sneaky.

Exodus 20: 3-6 

 "You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."

I tend to think of 'other gods' or 'idols' as actual, physical objects.  And of course, I would not think of such an object as a 'god' by any means.

But....  The Holy Spirit, in his gracious, refiner's fire, has been showing me that I actually do have idols in my life, they are just more subtle then a little wooden budda doll.

When I started learning about how to take care of my body, I came to the realization that I would have to give up my 'dream body' of a toned, size 6, whispy little thing.  Maybe that is my body's optimal build, but, probably not.  And either way, if I were to stress about it, then it would color the rest of of my decisions regarding food, time spent, even thoughts and emotions spent, etc.  I want to be truly healthy, whatever that may look like.
That was hard.  It took me awhile to mentally get to the point where I could be ok with that.  But I did not, until now, see it as an 'idol' that I had put before God.  Sure, it distracted me at times throughout the years. Yes, it caused me to make bad decisions in many aspects, but my worrying about my body seemed harmless enough.

But God has been showing me how many things distract me from him.  Satan uses the subtle, almost silly things, to take our time and energy away from what is important.

We don't have a TV, haven't for years, and don't miss it.  But, I spend a lot of time on the computer.  And God has been showing me that, while spending time on the computer in and of itself is not evil, if I am using it to waste time or, esp in my case, to fill a void of loneliness and real communication, then it becomes an idol. 

Anything that Satan uses to distract us, even from our hurts and pain (maybe esp from our hurts and pain) is an idol. Rather then deal with what is causing the emotional discomfort, we try to fill the voids through other, often seemingly good, activities.

I lead the first grade sunday school class at my church. I LOVE it.  And I'm pretty good at it.  It utilizes gifts that God has given me.  And.... it was filling a need in my life that only God should be filling.  Who knew that teaching Sunday School could become an idol?  It made me feel important and useful.  It made me feel good about myself, rather then digging into why I had this need for people's approval.  When I thought God was going to take away my 'job', I wanted to cry.  But He was so gracious to let me see how it was feeding into my prideful sin nature, and then help me to go to Him to have my needs met.  And in so doing, not only did I get to keep teaching, but I've been able to see His power through me.  It's been humbling, but very exciting!

Food was definitely an idol for me.  It still is, sort of.  But I pray that God would help me to keep my priorities straight.  Two years ago I was addicted, and I mean addicted, to sugar/refined carbs.  I craved it all day long.  I snuck away to the grocery store and then snuck bags of junk back and hid them so I could eat them throughout the day.  It was a sad, miserable existence.  But, through my nutritional studies, I started to see the lack of nutrients/fat that my body had and the chemical/physical dependency I had created through it.  As I am mostly past the physical part, God has shown me lately how I had used junk food as a band aid for any pain I was feeling.

Stressed out?  No problem, eat a quart of Edy's!  Overwhelmed with my responsibilities?  No worries, polish off a bag of Hershey's kisses.  Depressed about how life wasn't what I expected it to be?  No reason to feel the pain and take it to God for comfort.  A big bag of Doritos did the trick, but with a lot less emotional pain.  As a matter of fact, they gave me the 'high' right away!  All of my worries just slid off my back.  Until the 'high' was over and I was crashing fast and in desperate need of more sugar to keep me happy.

Oh, what a vicious cycle it is!  I will never look at an alcoholic or drug addict the same again. It's an awful roller coaster that you can't get off of! 

And, it's an idol.  An idol that kept me from bringing my sin to God.  That kept me from trusting him fully and wholly to meet my needs.

Reading.  I love to read, and I even mostly read only good, uplifting, non-fiction, teaching books.  I have so much to learn, and I really do believe that it's important to continue to learn and grow.  However, God had to point out, that I was reading to avoid dealing with sin in my life.  And I had to slow down for a time and ask my motivation every time I picked up a book. Was it to ignore the kids?  Was it to avoid feeling hurt or frustration?  Was it to distract me?  Mostly now, it's for learning sake and not to avoid problems, but it was and can easily become an idol-even 'good' books.  Movies also fall under this category, but for some reason, I have ADHD when it comes to visual entertainment.

Exercise.  We are instructed to care for our bodies, as they are temples of the Holy Spirit.  Exercise is important, esp in our convenient society today.  However, it can easily become an idol, and certainly did for me.  My motivation was esp prideful.

Relationships.  Ish, that's a big one for me.  God made us relational people, we are not meant to live in our own little worlds.  But yet, He can, and will meet ALL my needs.  And I should only approach others once I have those needs met.  Otherwise I quickly look to them to fill my needs, which is a sin, and can often get ugly.

Reading Scripture.  I know, I know, that is weird.  But, I find for myself, that I have to be careful about my daily Scripture reading.  I get dogmatic and don't get the kids breakfast until long after they should have eaten. Or I start to get all prideful about how 'faithful' I've been about reading it regularly.  While studying Scripture daily is of utmost importance, it should only be done as a means of knowing and loving God more. Not as a means to pat oneself on the back, or to check off one more item on a list.  If it's done for either of those purposes, it can become a false god. Leave it to me to make that a sin! 

Music.  God gave us music as a means of expressing our love for and worship to Him. It's very important.  But much of the music today, even and maybe esp Christian music, is really meant to point us more into ourselves.  To make us see what we don't have, who we are not, what we could be.  And not who God is, and how we are to act toward Him.  Emotions are constantly being played, and often a 'high' is gotten out of music, the same way it is from drugs, alcohol or sugar.  Even much worship at churches today does this. 

Church. Here I go again.  Church can be so, well, churchy!  It's so often a game we play, trying to look our best (or worst, if that is considered more holy).   And Satan gets our mind off of what is truly important and gets us worried about the silly little things that do not effect eternity.  Guilty!

Busy-ness.  That was a big one for me for a long time.  I'm a people pleaser and I love to be 'needed'.  It's easy to make being busy an idol-meanwhile ignoring important issues that God means for you to deal with.  

In my kids, I see idols already creeping into their little worlds.  The latest fashion (stupid silly bandz), new toys to distract them for a time, junk food, entertainment, applause of men, materialism, shyness, not-shy-enough-ness, friend's approval, ability to control.  I want to teach them early, to see and avoid such idols. They can become such a part of us, that we don't even realize they are there!

I think in America today, Satan esp uses distractions.  He just keeps us too busy on the wheel of life, that we don't even stop to think there may be more out there.  What we are doing is important and mind-consuming, so we continue on. Instead of seeking a deeper relationship with our Maker and Sustainer. 
Satan is so subtle, but when the Holy Spirit is allowed to work, he starts rooting out the sin in one's life, and it's so exciting to see it happen!  It's like I have a new pair of glasses, and can see life in a whole different way!

My chains are gone, I've been set free!!!!!!!

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