Idols aren’t anything we think about often. That word, “idol”, may remind us simply of the TV show or of ancient Bible times. But did you know that idols are still prevalent today?
Our idols may not be tangible objects. We may not have statues or carved images, but we might have certain things in our lives that consume more time and energy than they should. These things cause us to think of our problems, to dwell on them, to mull them over and try to come up with solutions on our own. Maybe it’s our checkbooks – we don’t see enough money in there to cover the necessary expenses. Maybe it’s a relationship – we want it to look a specific way, or it’s just more exciting than anything else in our lives. Maybe it’s our body, our image – we work out frequently and make sure to diet; or maybe we don’t do anything, and we sulk in the fact that we haven’t. Maybe it’s something totally different for you.
Idols creep in. Look at the Israelites: they were wholeheartedly serving the Lord, yet sometimes when they obediently went out to conquer foreign lands they would be enticed by the idols of those foreign lands. They gave in to those temptations and ended up disobeying the Lord and worshiping the idols. It was a downward spiral from there.
Yet every single time the Israelites went astray and disobeyed the Lord, what did He do? He offered a way out. And it was the same way out every single time. “and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all of your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you” (Deuteronomy 30:2-3). He went on to tell them of the immense blessings He wanted to give to them upon their return to Himself. When they turned to Him and served Him only, He would bless them. When they chose to go their own way and worship something other than Him, He would curse them; they wouldn’t receive the fullness of His blessing.
I have idols. They creep into my heart and start to take over before I realize what’s happening. As time has passed, however, I have gotten much better at stopping them early on. But sometimes I allow my carnal self to take control and lead me down the wrong path. The thing is, my idols don’t always start off bad. They just end up bad. As I go along I realize that the road is not completely following after God’s Word; something doesn’t completely mesh with my spirit. Oftentimes I can’t immediately put a finger on it; but I know a specific part of it is impure and unholy.
You’d think that at that point I’d listen to the red flags, stop in my tracks, and turn around. Sadly, I don’t do that every time. When I do turn around, it hurts. If I stop early, it doesn’t hurt as bad. Ripping away from your flesh hurts. It’s not easy. But it is completely, 100% necessary.
When I build up an idol and have to tear it down, I build an altar. Every aspect of that idol must go on the altar, and it must be left there to be burned up. I draw an altar on a page of my journal and label it. Then I write every little detail of that idol on separate lines around the altar. I pray and I cry and I read the Word and work it out with the Lord. Sometimes I fight Him as long as I can and try to bargain with Him, knowing that I don’t actually want to win. Eventually I let it all go. As I let each detail go, I draw a line connecting it to the altar. Once that line has been drawn, there’s no turning back.
It can take a while. And it hurts – oh, does it hurt. But once the lines have been drawn and everything released, there is an immense peace and assurance that the Lord ushers in. It’s wonderful. Then His blessings flow, and it’s miraculous. You know without a doubt that He is good. You know that He has your best interest in mind, that He wants to bless you and prosper you. You know that He loves you – really, truly loves you.