The Bible is not short on stories of worshipping false idols and gods, but it seems so foreign to us. We do not erect golden calves in our yards or worship little “g” gods, so it is seemingly easy for us to escape disobeying the first of commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.” We proclaim, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It appears to be a piece of cake to uphold commandment number one, well, until you look up the word god with a lowercase “g” and it means idol.
Idol [ahyd-l] noun:
- an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
- Bible. an image of a deity other than God or the deity itself.
- any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion:
- a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.
- a figment of the mind; fantasy.
- a false conception or notion; fallacy.
If we read the first two definitions, we would usually still be innocent of idolatry, but there are four more definitions. This is where I get tripped up.
Recently a friend shared a testimony of the healing and restoration God has done in her family. Her testimony started with her earliest childhood memories of abuse and her desire for a family. It reminded me of my own lifelong desire for family. I had not thought about that in a long time since I now have a husband and five children. It helped me hear that someone else from an abusive family had the same desire, it made it seem more normal. I am sure we are not the only ones either. Have you realized how the enemy always wants us to think “we are the only one who (fill in the blank)?”
I did not think much more about it until the next day after I dropped off the last of the five kids for school on Monday morning. I was driving home and as I thought about always wanting a family, the Lord, as only He can do, gently spoke to my heart, “You have made it an idol.” Ouch! He was right since childhood I had an idea of the family I wanted and it was the opposite of the family I had, which is not a good basis to define family. I was not wholeheartedly seeking Him and His desire for my family I was building my own, thank you very much! You know what I was not doing such a good job. Anytime we try to do it our way instead of His, well, it just does not go well.
Do not misunderstand, I was a believer, I went to church and took my kids to church. They went to Christian school, we prayed at home and listened to Christian radio. I did not totally turn my back on Him, I just did not seek Him fully for His vision or ideal of family. I inserted some bible verses in “my” plan, but that still did not make it His. Even the Christian parenting books I read did not dethrone my idolatry. It was so subtle I missed it until He gently convicted me.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love. Jonah 2:8
I went home and began bible journaling while listening to worship music. I was quickly drawn away by a song and knew what I needed to do. Repent! So, on my knees, I repented for erecting “family” as an idol, for putting my desire for family above my desire for Him. I gave Him permission to build and keep my family as He saw fit. I would love to tell you that the angels were singing and I felt differently, but I did not. Although, I did feel a weight lifted. This is going to be a process. Watching God transform what is now His to do what He saw from the beginning. My ways, plans, ideas and dreams will have to die and I will have to seek His heart for His. It is like giving God permission to release the wrecking ball.
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I made my castle tall
I built up every wall
This is my kingdom and it needs to fall
Colton Dixon, More of You
There was no value in idolizing family, my version of family actually became my own worst enemy. It is not enough or even biblical to do the opposite of what was done in our childhood. It sets us up for judgement, idolatry, disappointment and lots of spinning our wheels.
“If a daughter swings to the other end of the continuum and acts the opposite of her mother, she stands a good chance of creating the same dynamics that she’s trying so hard to avoid. The key lies in finding a middle ground on which you can stand as a loving parent with your own values.”
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Karyl McBride, Ph.D. page 125
We must seek Him for our family. He has things to say about abusive families, but He does not say do the opposite. He always gives it a more positive spin.
He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress,and for his children it will be a refuge.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:18
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Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Is there something in your life or heart that is held just a little higher than the place the Father holds? Would you be willing to give it to Him and let Him be your only God? Would you be willing to trust Him with the results? He already knows if there is, but still wants us to humbly come and confess.
Father, thank You that You are a jealous God and You will not share us with our carefully erected and protected idols. You gently and lovingly guide us back to Your will and plan for us. We can take You at Your word and trust You to perform it. Amen.