I was raised by southern women who used paring knives like they were an extension of our hands.
At the store, I use a box cutter to slip the price tags off of items so that I can spare my nails from any more splitting and sometimes people ask me if I ever cut myself.
Not on the box cutter…but constantly on paper and cardboard.
Just yesterday I gave myself a whopper of a paper cut opening a cardboard box that was delivered to our house.
As I applied pressure and Neosporin, I grabbed a bandaid out of the drawer and laughed when I saw it was an Incredibles style.
Thus ensued some family text messages, complete with puns and I went on my way trying to keep it dry.
But this morning it comes to me as I ponder how in the world I am going to navigate the next several weeks of commitments that I am not really very incredible.
I am not a superhero and if I was, something as ordinary and mundane as cardboard would prove to be my kryptonite.
When I am tired and hungry, I have meltdowns and sometimes I have them when I am rested and well fed.
As I continue reading the material and answers I penned in 2016 to the “No Other Gods” study, I realize God has given me some growth and freedom to step away from some idols, but the sad cycle of my human frailty is the reality that I will always default to idolatry…and I love how Kelly Minter helps me understand this by using the term “functional idols” in place of “false gods.”
Because I don’t bow down to a false god, but I do find myself bowing to the tyranny of living up to some image I have created for myself.
I seek comfort in the shelves of our pantry or by scrolling through pretty pictures on Instagram and I tell God what I can’t do and what I won’t do…and the image I have set up for how my life should look if it was going my way cracks the whip over me and says…more bricks and now you must cut your own straw to make them.
As I studied the passages from Exodus that described the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, I made these notes of the characteristics of those who held control over them:
- Dealt shrewdly with them so they would not multiply.
- Afflicted them with burdens
- They were made to serve with rigor
- Their lives were made bitter with harsh bondage, under which they groaned because of the oppression.
When I think of who has this kind of control over me, it is not the enemy of my soul but my own desire to do things the way I want to do them.
It is my own hand that crafts the functional idols and then groans under the weight of them.
God offers me a mighty sword to yield and armor to fit me for the battle, and I choose to strap on an Incredible bandage and dodge cardboard boxes…hmmmm….a silly trade.
How about you?
What is lording it over you today? What is pressing down on you and making you work harder with less fruit to show for it?
That’s the calling card of a functional idol.
Ask God to reveal its name and nature to you and then kick it to the curb.