A few weeks ago my church started a sermon series on the Ten Commandments. One of the sermons that stuck with me the most so far was a message that focused on the first two commandments, which both talk about God being first in our life.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.You shall have no other gods before me.”
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God..”
One of the things that the message focused on was idols. I think this day in age, many people don’t think about what idols really are because we still think of them as the golden calf that Aaron made for the Israelites in Exodus 32. The truth is, idols hit a lot closer to home than we want to think. Our pastor used this definition by Tim Keller that I thought was just outstanding.
‘What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give…
An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I ‘ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.’ Tim Keller from his book Counterfeit Gods
As I read that passage, I thought back to the time right after my husband had left, when I really had to face the idea of idols in my life. After my husband left, I thought that there was no way I could go on without him. I cried out to God to fix this! To bring my husband home! I knew that God hated divorce, and it was not what I wanted either so I cried out to God to intervene and put my family back together. I felt lost and alone, I knew that the only one who could get me through this was God. So I started reading my bible more and praying more and as I did, God confronted me fairly quickly with this question: When you are praying to me, what’s first? Is your desire to draw close to me and listen to what I have to say first or is your desire to get what you want first? Are you reading your bible and praying as some kind of a “3 step program” to get your husband back, or are you seeking to know me and have me be your everything? I had to take some time and really examine my motives. Was my motive just to get my husband home or was my motive to have God be my everything? The truth is that we can pray for something like healing or marriage restoration from God and in the process set this thing up as an idol in our life. When getting what we want becomes our focus and we think that we can not go on without it, it is an idol.
The last thing I wanted was to miss out on what God was going to do in my life because I was allowing an idol to come between us. Again, I cried out to God to help me, but this time, I asked him to help me to fix my eyes on Him, I asked Him to be my everything, I placed my marriage into his hands and let him know that no matter what, I wanted to follow His plan. Every day since then I say that pray. I know that I need the power of the Holy Spirit to walk this path. I know I can’t do it on my own or in my own strength. I know at times I am going to fall and make mistakes, but I also know that the way to have the life my heart truly desires can only come when I put God first.