Saturday, May 5, 2012

Life and Death and Idols

"You cannot serve  two Masters. If pleasing a person is your goal, you will be enslaved to that person. People can be harsh taskmasters when you give them this power over you."  --paraphrase of Jesus Calling, May 3

I once had a very powerful idol in my life. This idol defined my life. I yearned for it and prayed for it. I sacrificed and worked hard for it. All of my choices revolved around how this idol would be impacted by my decisions. And yet if anyone had asked me, "Do you have any idols, Karen?" My answer would have been, "No, of course not. And if you see any, let me know and I will smash them to bits."

I couldn't see how much my husband was my idol. 

If the question were phrased differently maybe I would have been forced to face the truth. Maybe one of these questions would have made things clearer: What feels like life to you? What feels like death to you?

Because my answer to those would have been: It feels like life when Kevin is happy and the kids are getting along. It feels like death when Kevin is sad or angry and when the kids are arguing. My good days and bad days were all wrapped up in things that were beyond my control. It was a recipe for misery, and it was for dinner every day.

I found myself in constant prayer for God to change Kevin. Thing is, people don't change unless the pain in their lives becomes unbearable. And there I was standing between Kevin and the pain God wanted to use in his life. I shielded him from hurts; protected his image; and was the fall guy for all of his shortcomings and sins. It was a painful and lonely place to live, but I honestly believed that if I could endure long enough Kevin would change. God would zap him, and he'd wake up and see the truth. But it didn't happen that way. It never does.

I couldn't save him. I couldn't love him enough to fill him. He was a bottomless pit of neediness, moodiness, anger, and shame.

Unfortunately, I was a "got-it-together" kinda girl. I knew how to get things done. I was strong. I thought I was trusting God. Thus it took years for God to bring me to an end of my own efforts at saving Kevin and being enough for him. My determination to stick it out until God intervened only sucked the life out of me.

I am not God. I couldn't be Kevin's personal Jesus. There was only one Savior, and I was not Him. I was failing, tiring, and growing resentful. And that sin of resentment was eating away at my own heart. I prayed about it all the time. I admitted it to God and agreed with Him about it, yet the hold was there. And right when I thought I was moving past it, Kevin would be there repeating the patterns. The bitterness would begin to churn inside me again, but I rarely let it spill out. I wanted to blame Kevin for my sins, and I often did in my heart and mind. However, the truth is the bitterness and resentment were mine, not his.

 Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.
Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: 
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns 
that cannot hold water."
Jeremiah 2:11-13

I had exchanged my God for an idol. Family, marriage, and husbands are not worthless; they are gifts from God. But as a gods, they are worthless. They cannot fill you up. They cannot save you. They will not redeem your life from the pit. I had left the spring of living water and was digging a broken well.

I had to come to a place of being willing to lose that image of good Christian family. And that's what it was: an image. Being broken enough to admit it was also the moment God was able to begin a rebuilding. And I couldn't have a God-built well if I wouldn't step aside and let him fill in the shabby cistern I had constructed.

The irony is that when Kevin was no longer on that throne and shielded by my pain intervention plan, God could do a good work in him too. And He did.

The beautiful truth about the Father is that He loves me too much to leave me drinking muddy water. He will bring the pain until I am willing to change my thinking. It may take mere moments or it may take years. He will not give up, let go, or give in. He is a jealous God and an all consuming fire. And His favorite is burning those idols.

And while God is a fire of passion, He is also a true gentleman. He won't force Himself upon you. He will wait on you to say, "O, God I have been living for an idol and I didn't even realize it. Forgive me. Change me. Free me. I take this idol down from the throne of my heart and open the door to You again."

My prayer for you is that as you have read this blog, God has brought to your mind who or what is life and death to you. Dear one, that is your idol. You may be saved, go to church, and tithe, but that thing you define as life is the real god in your heart.

The Father is holding before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose real life. Choose Him.

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