For longer than I even care to admit I have given my time and energy to idols. An idol is anything you put before God, or in place of God. It is not just about worshipping statues. I have lost sleep for my idols. I have cried tears, white knuckled the toughest of situations, and sacrificed myself very willingly to my idols. I have cheered on my idols. I have given my idols every bit of love, adoration, and affection that has been in me.
Even while doing this, I have prayed for reconnection with God. It was like that closeness with God stopped abruptly and it has honestly felt like a mystery to me. I have asked daily to be closer. I have read scripture. I have tried to pray more. I have tried to be nicer to enemies. I have tried online plans that are focused on connecting with God. I have tried to do more at church. I have tried to do less at church and tried to “personalize” my relationship with God.
I have cried at communion because God has done so much for me and what have I given in return? I have tried to tithe more. I have tried to do everything, but really refocus where my heart’s investments are.
My investments of the heart are my time, my effort, my energy, my attention, my praise, my frustrations, my passion, and my spiritual intimacy. You see the thing about idols is that they fail you. Anything of this Earth will fail you. Even if intentions are right or even if they are nonexistent, Earthly beings and things: my idols, will always disappoint me. They won’t always care if I’m hurt. They won’t always wince when I fall apart. They won’t always be there when I need help. They won’t always be my support. It can even be innocent! Things of this Earth always wear a layer of self-seeking behaviors and motives. We can’t help it!
That is God’s job. I am recalling times where my heart has been broken and my body tired from trying to explain my heart to an Earthly being. I am remembering times when I needed back up or help or support and I looked across a dinner table instead of looking up! How many times have I shopped online just to feel better for a moment? It is humiliating. I never thought I would be here after how far I had come in my faith.
I am not saying that the people and things I have been idolising aren’t important. They’re just not more important than God. They are not God. God will never fail me. God is my only God! (Duh!)
I am sitting here in a parking lot watching the rain fall on my windshield. The wipers are going and are clearing all the drops away so I can see. All I keep thinking is that all of my prayer and all of the effort in the “everything but..” has led me to this harsh and painful realization. I can see.
You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God
I have made God second. It stings to even type that, but that is my truth. I have been trying to fill every idol’s little soul piggy bank while being on the verge of spiritual bankruptcy.
I am a better me when my reliance, my view of self, my worship, my devotion, and my obedience is to God. How in the world could I forget one of the most basic fundamentals of my faith?! I feel like I need a dunce hat.
This realization is not an attractive one. I don’t think I am alone in this situation, but I feel alone. You hear of wives leaving husbands who do not support them, children being taken from neglectful parents, friends being mad because another friend forgot their birthday, but God takes me back. That is how this story ends.
Knowing the ending makes the getting there part a heck of a lot easier. It’s all so temporary. I just want to be back home. If you read this and this feels familiar, I invite you to join me into this journey of rechanneling. I have always loved the song “Clear the Stage” by Jimmy Needham and I will end with some of those lyrics.
“Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for god to whisper
Beg him please to open up his mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken“