Good evening! I hope you are doing well. I just had some 'soul food' from Weaver D's in Athens, GA, and I do believe that the butter potatoes are now swimming in my arteries. Oh yes...I feel like a huge lump of butter right now.
Over the summer, the Women's Biblestudy group I am a part of took a break. We started back up last week with several laughs, and almost zero productivity--after all, we had to catch up with each other! My first study I did with the women at church was 'Esther' by Beth Moore, followed by 'So Long, Insecurity,' also by Beth Moore. (I blogged about 'So Long, Insecurity' on here, and HIGHLY recommend that book for all women! Do the Esther study first though. I cannot explain what a wonderful follow up studying about insecurities was, especially after digging down deep into the life of a woman who by legal mandate, had to share her husband with any and all women he so pleased.) Now, we are breaking in our study books from Beth Moore to study Kelly Minter's, 'No Other Gods.' Friends, I must admit, the first week...I was a little upset. It wasn't as deep and intense as I had hoped. But whew, did the second week slap me in the face with the deep realization that the golden calf of Exodus, made by the Israelites didn't just vanish in Old Testament times...it is here today. All around each of us. And guess what, not to be negative, but you have a golden calf yourself...and God wants it gone.
"The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession." Deuteronomy 7:6
Real quickly I want to touch on the first week's lesson where we learned about an idol being a 'functional god.' That can be anything in my life that takes the place of God...it could be something I try to find my identity in (being the prettiest/most athletic/most musical), or seek security in (getting that job promotion/hoarding my money/never taking risks). In truth, it could be my desire to be in Romania serving the orphans, or my passion for adoption. Now before you say that those things cannot be idols because they are good...great even, let's look at a definition by Richard Keyes:
"An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as a substitute for God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them. Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God's existence or character. It may well come in the form of an overattachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good. An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero--anything that can substitute for God."
When my love for orphans or Romania becomes an obsession and makes me want to run after something that is not God's will at this moment, that thing, whether good or bad, becomes an idol. Ouch!
Week two literally felt like my eyes, brain, and heart were being sanded down my some carpenter refining his creation. Interesting...I believe that is exactly what Jesus was doing!
I am chosen. I am treasured by God. I already have an identity, and that is in Christ. Until I realize that my identity is in Christ...I am His first...I will not be able to rid myself of false gods in my life. How often do I lose sight of what I have (Jesus!) and who I am (a child of God!)??!! I just have to quote Kelly Minter here...I believe every young women needs this engrained into her skin: "Fulfilling our sinful desires will snuff out this burning goodness. By indulging them we actually become the reverse of peculiar and strange. We become--hold your breath--normal. For those of us seeking individualism and distinctiveness, chasing our lusts will only make us like everyone else, with little identity at all." We are aliens in this world--sojourners. As a Christian, I know this is not my home. I have no business trying to set up camp here. My face should always be looking toward heaven, seeking to glorify God, and that 'difference' in me should be Jesus' light shining through...not me seeking attention from the world.
Why idols? Simple. We get tired. Tired of waiting on God to answer our prayers. Tired of His answers being different than what we wanted (though His answers are always what we need). We get tired of hearing people tell us what God wants/is doing/will do. If you have the time, go and read Genesis 16. Sarai grew tired of waiting for God to give her children (even though He had promised her a child that would bring many generations--and in her line would be born the Saviour of the world!). Instead of being patient and trusting in the Lord, she gave her servant to Abraham, which produced Ishmael. In Genesis 21 we see the fulfillment of God's plan. He always keeps His promises. But our actions always have consequences. Sometimes dire ones. And because of Sarai acting impatiently, we had the birth of a son (Ishmael) that would lead to the religion we know today as Islam.
But the thing that stuck out the most to me was learning where the famous Golden Calf (Exodus 24) came from. While Moses was on the mountain with God, the Israelites grew tired of waiting for him and so gathered their golden earrings from the men, women, and children, and created the golden calf. I had never, ever, had this pointed out to me before. If you trace back to Exodus 12, you will see that God gave the Israelites favor over the Egyptians, allowing the Israelites the gold. The Israelites turned God's gifts into gods.
So that is where I am dwelling now. Do I have gods in my life that were originally blessings from my Lord. Are they, in and of themselves, perfectly good, yet I have allowed myself to find identy in them? My identity is in Christ, and I refuse to let His blessings to me become anything but a gift to offer back to Him. With His help, that will be the case.
I am excited to share with you all that I learn through this! Thank you for joining me, and I hope that me sharing my learnings will be a blessing to you!
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9