Or do you admire from the distance?
Sometimes, we let idols be our “gods” instead of our true God. We base our self-worth on these things, we look to these idols for guidance, we stray away from the Lord. Last night, I was feeling low because my faith life has been super bumpy - I feel like some days I’m scraping the side of a dark hole. Instead of talking to God about it, I tried calling my friends and people who I thought would “get it.” No one answered. It was not till this morning when I realized the Lord is trying to show me something - I see friends as my “idols.” I base my self-worth and confidence on acceptance.
I’m a pretty outgoing person. I can talk up a storm, and usually make friends pretty easily. However, I’ve had the worst of luck finding people that I can connect to at both of my colleges. And I couldn’t understand why. Until now. I might be completely off base here, but the Lord wanted me to come to Him, no one else. It explains how my college life has gone so far. Because God wants our undivided attention, and He’ll do things so that we will listen.
Idols can be what you consider “good things” like friends or family. It does not necessarily have to be alcohol, drugs, school, your high-stress job, etc. What makes it an idol is when you worry or obsess about these things and turn away from the Lord. The worry signifies that you do not trust in the Lord. Worrying itself is not a sin, but the mistrust behind it causes you to drift away from our Creator.
Think you don’t have idols? Or have no clue what they are? Or maybe you have multiple idols. Here are some really cool questions that David Powlison wrote in Seeing With New Eyes to help us identify our personal idols.
1. What do I worry about most?
2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
3. What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
4. What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
5. What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
6. What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
7. What do I lead with in conversations?
8. Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
9. What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
10. What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
11. What is my hope for the future?
I don’t know exactly how eloquent I was about it, but I talked to my roommate late last night about my faith. She currently is a self-proclaimed atheist. While we both believe very different things, my roommate and I grew up with similar religious constraints even though I come from a Catholic background, and she comes from a very strict Muslim upbringing. There are many differences between the two religions, but our conversation ended up coming down to faith and loving God.
I wrongly assumed she was like my roommate (also an atheist) last year, and would get scared off if I even brought up the topic of God. That was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. Like me in high school, she shut herself off from her religion (the Lord included), hardening her heart to the idea of a Creator. But when our conversation segued into the topic, I realized while she denies the Lord’s existence, there’s already a nugget of knowledge in her head that is open to the idea. She mentioned dreams she’s had about God’s presence, and while I have no idea what exactly they entail, I was so surprised she even mentioned it to me. It was eye-opening, and sobering because I realized I put a label on her and where she is when it comes to her faith.
But by having the strength to tell me that, she gave me the courage to tell her a little of my story. It was easy to relate it to her, because I’d gone through the same hardening of my heart. But instead of going south and completely shutting the Lord out, I went the opposite way and opened my heart up. And it’s been the scariest, most difficult road I’ve taken. But it’s also the most rewarding, and there’s no way I can deny His existence. He’s there, and while there’s been ups and downs in my faith life, I have a relationship with Him. When I told her this, I realized how in the wrong I’ve been these past few months. She knew that I believed, but I don’t think she knew the extent, and that makes me so ashamed. She’d heard a rant or two I’ve had about religion, but religion and faith to me are two completely different things.
I told her how that in the beginning, I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. How I didn’t even know if God was there. And she asked me how I knew/finally realized. It took months for me to realize that the Lord was listening, He’d always been listening. I realized it was me who wasn’t listening. I asked and talked and refused to hear what He told me. This part was so hard to put into words, and I have no idea if I said anything correctly. In the end, I told her to try praying - not a prayer she knew, but a prayer from the heart. A prayer that was more of a conversation.
I have no idea if I made anything of a difference, but I’m so happy I got to share a little of who am I to her. Thank you, Lord, for using me. I feel like I completely screwed up, but maybe our conversation wasn’t a total diaster.
Every religious person I know looks like they have their crap together. They are firm in their beliefs, and know their stance on every issue, Bible verses and all. Then there’s me, stuck in the mud at the starting line. I am not the uber perfect Christian. I sin all the time. I can’t pull Bible verses out of my ass when the occasion arises. I still haven’t found a church ministry at my college, and I hate going to church. I feel like I’m never good enough in comparison to everyone else. Why would the Lord want to save me - a sinner? What do I have to give? I will never get the award for “Best Christian.”
Sometimes I even wonder if I’ll be even let into heaven with all the things that I’ve said and done. I ask for forgiveness, then do the same exact sin again. Over and over. It’s like Groundhog Day.
And yet, the Lord keeps forgiving me. He keeps encouraging me by opening my eyes up to insecurities like this - insecurities I hold to my chest because I can’t seem to let them go. When people get real with me, I am so stunned, because it makes me realize how self-centered I am. I keep thinking I am the only screwed up person in this world, but that’s obviously not the case. There is not an award for the “Best Christian” because no one is without sin. We all are fighting a different battle, but the same war. And while it would be so easy to give up, I don’t want to. I want to be strong. I want God.
So don’t give up on Him - God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. Sometimes it seems like the easiest thing would just be to give in to Satan. But Satan throws these insecurities at us on purpose - he wants us to give up the Lord, to give up the light. To lose the war. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that such an evil exists. But there is such a thing as Satan, and for that reason and many reasons beyond that, we must keep strong in the Lord. Even when we feel six feet under and hopeless.
These are a few of my favorite verses:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.