Ever read one of those books that knock you upside the head like a two by four? I did that a couple of weeks ago by accident. I generally let God’s spirit direct my reading, and He led me to this:
I’ve come to the conclusion that few people would read books like this unless they are looking for answers or want to be challenged. In my case, I was looking for answers and since God led me to this book, I guess you could say it’s all His fault I’m bruised between the eyes and have baby chicks flying above my head. Anyway, this book was ah-may-zing. If you want to purchase it, go here.
Kyle Idleman took this concept of idolatry and broke it down in terms I could wrap my brain around. It seems like a pretty easy concept to embrace in our culture, but he showed me that idols aren’t always cliches. Off the top of my head cliches I picture are television, movies, books, pornography, cars, shopping, etc…these are pretty dominant in our culture. But did you know another person can be an idol in your life? Perhaps it’s a spouse or a child you give all your attention to. What about character traits such as perfection or comfort?
This books showed me, I have been worshiping different Gods. I broke the first commandment and didn’t even realize I did it! I couldn’t even get to the other commandments because I got stuck on the first one! In all seriousness, I worship the God of perfection, comfort and health. These are the big ones in my life.
My last post focused on a vessel I broke and glued back together. This was an effort to heal from the pain of my past. If you didn’t read that post, you’ll find it here. As I put the vessel back together and God kept telling me this vessel was about my health. Seriously? Haven’t we covered this before? Of course we had, but I STILL didn’t get it.
After 16 years of chronic illness I now worshiped the God of Health. I focused on diet and exercise, which television shows to watch on the bad days, what lab work the doctor runs to better understand, what medications are at my disposal? On the bad days I focused on all the things I couldn’t do, the friends I didn’t have and the family I couldn’t see.
My close friends warned me, “You need to quit focusing on your health.” But I couldn’t understand how I was to not focus on something that effected me so greatly each and every day. How do I keep from worrying about diet and exercise, tv shows, lab work and medicines? Allowing these things to control my focus and energy took my focus away from God. And that my friend is the definition of idolatry.
And THAT is what breaking my vessel was all about. Dethroning my idols. My vessel is not perfect, my vessel is not pretty to look at, but when I look at my vessel it reminds me of the God I serve, the God of the universe. The God who does hold together brokenness and the God who wants me to love Him, no matter what I look like, what I can do and no matter how I feel.
I focused so much on myself I lost sight of which God I worshiped. What I learned from reading this book and breaking my vessel is that I must wake up each and every morning and decide which God to worship. I must choose to dethrone my idols and put God in His rightful place above all else.
And it’s so hard.
So I’ve come up with a small checklist of things to help me recognize when I’ve dethroned God and succumbed to idolatry.
First thing I do every morning is assess how I feel. Is this going to be a day full of energy or none at all? Is this going to be a day of enjoying the sun or staying indoors? Will I be able to achieve some level of productivity today? Those are the typical questions I ask myself upon waking. But now I ask a different set of questions.
Which God will I worship today? The god of health? The god of perfection? The god of comfort? The god of food or tv? It’s my choice. God gives me that much. He wants me to worship Him, but He won’t make me do it. And when the hard days set in, I have to be really diligent in keeping the God of the universe my focus. Satan likes to steal my joy and I’m ashamed to say he gets it quite easily. It’s a hard battle and one I fight every single day.
One of the ways Kyle Idleman says to identify which God you worship is to pay attention to what you complain about. If you complain about your aches and pains, maybe you worship the god of health. If you complain about your shortcomings, maybe you worship the god of perfection. If you complain about not having enough money, maybe you worship the god of finances.
So from now on, I pay closer attention to the things I complain about and what I focus on. Each holds it’s own challenges, but I’m working hard to dethrone the gods of my heart. How about you?
Question: What idols have you elevated above the God of the universe and how do you shift your focus back to Him?