Idols, Anyone?

They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.

Psalm 106:36

In early 2002, I began having severe back pain.  After 20+ doctors and specialists and a couple of years of nearly any treatment you can think of, it was determined that I had a case of multi-level degenerative disc disease.  From my neck to my tailbone, I had discs that were falling apart.  In other words, I had the back of a 65 year old.  There was no cure, no fix, just a prescribed regiment of narcotics and muscle relaxers.

Day after miserable day, for many long years, I went from the desire to drive into a tree to the more tangible thought of over-dosing on Vicodin – just to make the horrible pain go away.  I recently heard someone say that “pain makes you do crazy things, and the fear of pain makes you do crazy things.”  I have experienced both of these.  Only God’s grace, my wonderful husband, and my beautiful children kept me going most days.

But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.  Romans 5:20b

But by the grace of God I am what I am.  1 Corinthians 15:10a

Don’t deceive yourself.  Anything can be an idol.  If it takes the place of God’s control over your life, it is an idol. —- Yes, even the desire to get pregnant or the desire to have your own child and being over-protective towards the children that you currently have can all be idols.

Kill your idols

Don’t just “brush them under the rug,” or ignore them, KILL them!

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

“God wants you to bend your knees, or He’ll break your legs, but either way, you’re going down!” Such truth in that comical quote.  Sometimes God has to make us lie down.  We don’t always choose to lie down willingly.  I was definitely at this point in my life.  God “broke my legs,” and He “made me lie down.”

 He makes me lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:2a

 I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.  Isaiah 42:8

I spent nearly five months getting free of narcotics.  Even though I had a doctor’s help, the withdraws and the cravings were terrible.  I lost many friends.  I lost many opportunities.  I have no doubt that I came close to death many times.  If you don’t kill your idols, they will kill you.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  James 1:15

In order to kill our idols – anger, addiction, or just plain old pride – we have to know the truth about them. It is often hard to hear, and sometimes, it takes time for us to be ready to hear it. Like Jacob, in the Bible, I wrestled with God.  I will always have scars.  I will always walk with a “limp,” but I saw the face of God, and I will never be the same again.

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.  So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”  The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.  Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh. Genesis 32:24-32

Even though I am free from this idol, other potential idols continually plead for my attention.  Some of these are not “bad” things, such as ministry, hobbies, family, or dreams and goals.  Even the desire for another child can become an idol.  Others try to sneak in through backdoors – pride, bitterness, envy, and worry.

These are a few rules I try to practice in my daily living, to keep these impending idols at bay:

1.  I try to take what others say as a reflection upon where they are in their life, not upon me, and pray for them. It’s not always easy. They are not in the same place that I am, and maybe God hasn’t dealt with that issue in their life yet, just as I may struggle in an area that God has already perfected in their life. Give grace. I remind myself daily of this.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

2.  Try to “act,” not “re-act” as much as possible.  Know God’s truth and hide it in my heart, so that I will habitually respond in a Christ-like manner to circumstances in my life.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11 (KJV)

3.  I continue to seek Godly counsel and keep praying for wisdom – daily.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:4-5

Replace your idols with the One True God

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  Deuteronomy 6:5

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?   Deuteronomy 10:12-13

One of the major things that I needed to learn was how to fill the void that my addiction left with something good.  If I don’t, it’s more likely that I will turn to another addiction to fill the place of narcotics in my life.  Because the pain doesn’t go away, the desire for a “pain-killer” of some sort will always be there.  I need to be careful that I go to God with my pain and not to another person or object.  God is the only One strong enough to keep me “clean” from all addictions and idols in my life.  Contentment is found in Christ and Christ alone!

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency[ all contentment] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

During these past several years, I have learned that if God is in control – the only One in control – I will be filled with a joy that is unquenchable. This is the quote that I wrote, which I include with a small decorated puzzle piece, in the Joy Bundles and any other time it is appropriate.

Every trial and every difficulty in our life is simply a small “puzzle piece” in the much larger “masterpiece” of our lives that God is creating. Some pieces are so very ugly and some cause pain and heartache, when God is shaping them; however, when we enter into eternity, we will look at the finished product called “our life,” and marvel at the way everything truly worked together for our good and for God’s glory. – HMBesser

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 John 5:21

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2012. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp017p11-12-12

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