His question comes seemingly out of the blue as we are driving home on a rather grey day.
“Mama, how do you make an idol not an idol anymore?”
I glance at him in the rear-view mirror and he’s staring out the window at the trees whizzing by, their shape distorted by waves of low-lying fog.
It’s a great question, and I want to seize this teachable moment, but my mind is grasping through fog for an answer. How do you make an idol not an idol anymore?
Really – how?
I know why he’s asking. There has been a lot of discussion about idols in our house recently, particularly with him. When restricting the use of video games causes a major meltdown in a 7-year old boy, a wise mother might wonder if she has an idol on her hands.
And as with any lesson I am trying to teach my children, I’m so painstakingly aware that God is trying to teach me the same. What has priority place in my life in the spot reserved only for God? What have I allowed to grow in importance until it usurps my Father and sets itself up on the throne of my heart? Is it approval? Success? Happiness?
Oh dear, the list could go on.
“Mom?” He’s still waiting for an answer.
“Really, son, the only way to dethrone an idol is to ask God to remove it. Ask Him to make loving and obeying Him more important to you than anything else in your life.”
I can see him nod slightly.
|For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. ~ Psalm 96:4-6|
We ride in silence.
I decide not to press him further. I can see he’s thinking, and even more importantly, that the Lord is working in his heart.
|But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the world of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them. ~ Psalm 115:3-8|
How quickly my need to be in control – to have a plan – overtakes my desire to seek God for direction. Almost unnoticed, my need to feel approval from others rises up over my desire for God’s approval. Without warning I realize the energy and time I devote to making my life better is far greater than my efforts dedicated to knowing Him better.
All idols growing dangerously tall in my heart. Idols that cannot speak, cannot see, cannot hear – cannot do anything – except fill the space that’s reserved for God alone.
And when I trust in them I become like them.
Deceived into thinking they may have something to offer me. Deluded into believing true fulfillment might be found in any one of these molten images. And then I cannot see the truth or hear His voice. I become just like them.
God continually instructed the Israelites to tear down their idols. To smash them to bits. He knew of their danger if they weren’t completely destroyed. How they lure distracted hearts away from the one true God.
Lord, smash the idols in my life. Make my desire to know You be infinitely greater than my desire for anything else.
|O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14|
As I pull into our driveway, that peculiar verse at the end of John’s first letter comes to mind. It seems so out of place, so off topic. And maybe that’s the point. It certainly captures our attention:
|Little children, guard yourselves from idols. ~ 1 John 5:21|
Lord, make my idols no longer idols. Replace them with your unsurpassed greatness and goodness.