How I planned this countdown in my head is vastly different than how it is playing out. Is anyone except me really surprised? I seem to be the only one who still expects me to somehow have a well scheduled life that follows a routine each day just as I had pictured it at the onset of a grand idea.
We are dealing with Miss Fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants-girl. On rare occasions, the Lord has given me an outline early and helped me plug in but for the most part it’s usually pray and type.
So here we are today with #9.
Which just happens to be verse 9 of the first Chapter and I only realized that just at this moment! Ha!
People everywhere are telling about the way you accepted us when we were with you. They tell how you stopped worshipping idols and began serving the living and true God.1 Thessalonians 1:9
There have been several solid teachings lately in my life about idolatry. Kelly Minter’s “No Other Gods” plus a sermon series we had a while back addressing idolatry. Add to that just about every other Bible study and sermon I have listened to from other churches, because God is very serious about ridding me of idols and you could say I run into the subject frequently.
In all of these the litmus test for if something is an idol is that we turn to it instead of God to fill our needs. For me the answer to the questions posed to help identify an Idol in my own life, comes down to my closest relationships.
If they are out of whack or taken away, I am undone. My identity is wrapped up tightly to the people I love being there and loving me just as I am there for and love them.
Acceptance, belonging and value are a huge part of how we are all wired, and when I tangle with my flesh instead of seeking my ultimate acceptance, belonging and value in being a child of God, I can easily slip into idolatry. I begin to exalt being loved by people above being loved by God.
This leads to a slippery downward spiral.
I begin to resent sharing any of their affection with others. Even my worship becomes skewed because I want to be the one who is known to love and serve and care for and protect my people. Suddenly as I have exalted my relationships with people above my relationship with God, I end up moving from idol worship of the relationship and set myself on the throne of my own making.
What a mess.
Here is a recent example of how this plays out in the practical every day of my life.
Yesterday as I was leaving from my time with the Fab Four, Joel was the lone ranger to do the traditional wave and race to the corner. All the grandparents know the drill.
Child runs as fast as they can while you slowly creep down the street praying a car doesn’t come up behind you wondering what the heck you are doing.
As child triumphantly celebrates the victory at the corner, you lean out over the passenger seat, waving wildly and applauding how fast this little goober is whilst pretending you can’t believe you lost again. It’s golden.
He stood there on the sidewalk, sweatshirt all zipped funny, curls swirling around his little gap-toothed, smiling, freckled face. Waving his arms he began to pretend to run backwards and my heart filled up so much it literally felt like something akin to a coronary attack. It hurt.
Sometimes the love I feel for our children and grandchildren actually hurts my physical heart in its intensity. Tears just poured as I held the image of his sweet little face and I wanted to hold onto Joel, aged five and two months forever and ever and ever just the way he is.
Now that love is not wrong, but as I drove and cried, I knew I had to acknowledge the close connection between the love I feel for him and how dangerously full I could allow that to take over my heart. How easily I could let the love of our grandchildren squeeze into every pocket of my thoughts and devotion.
So here is what I know I have to do. As I drove, I cried and I said as simply as I could.
God, right now the most precious thing I have in this moment is the picture in my mind of that little goober and what he just did. So somehow I want to wrap all of that up and I want to give it to you as an offering. I want to somehow in my spirit, take all of the joy and love he gave me just now and I want to give it to You because You are my everything. I do not hold it above you, I do not hold my love for family above my love for You so I give You all the joy right now as worship to You.
As I continued to drive, the Spirit whispered into my heart how God understands that love of a “son.” I began to think how He watched His precious Son grow up here amongst us and then suffer and die. How He had to turn away from His Son when His Son became sin for us and how He watched with joy as His Son overcame death.
Was I still blessed by the memory as I shared I with Russ later over dinner? Of course.
But in the right proportion. My love for Joel was back to the level it needs to me and I had grown in my love for my Lord and Savior who is the only One who deserves my worship.
This is my thing.
You need to figure out what your idols are and then pray for God to show you how to lay them down. What is overshadowing your love and devotion for Him? It is not worth it. Only He is worthy.