I'm going through the book of Jeremiah with my mom and one of my sisters using Kay Arthur's, "Listening to God in Difficult Times," which is part of her New Inductive Study Series. If you've never encountered one of her studies and like to get into the meat of the Word, check out her studies. (One feature I loved on her site was the ability to choose a study based on "no homework," "15 minutes of homework" or "one hour of homework.")
I'm in Jeremiah Chapter 10 and encountered a boxing match. The opponents? Idols vs. God. So that you may know the opponents a little better, here is a synopsis of how each is described throughout the chapter:
Idols: can't speak, can't walk, wooden, worthless, perishable, fraudulent, dressed up, objects of mockery, images, and my favorite, like scarecrows in melon patches
God: Lord, King, eternal King, true God, living God, Maker, Portion of Jacob, Lord Almighty
Any guesses as to who might win each round and every match? That should be a rhetorical question.
But, I suspect, for many of us (myself included), what actually happens is that we put our idols up against God and get them to duke it out, hedging our bets that this time, our idol will come through.
This got me wondering why it is easy to fall into the trap of trusting in an idol and thinking it has the power to do anything.
Perhaps it has to do with seeing and believing. Like when I'm emotionally frazzled and want to talk with someone, it's easier to reach out to a fellow human whose voice I can easily hear and whose arms can hug me in sympathy. But God is teaching me to turn to Him first when I need a friend and counsel. And that even though I may have a hard time discerning His whispers above my own voice and the enemy's clamor and can't feel His arms around me, He still is there, listening and speaking to my heart, hugging me with His peace, reassuring me He won't leave.
Or when we have a whole lot of bills to pay, it's easy to fall into the trap of being reassured by a bank account that has enough money in it to cover our bills. Because trusting and believing God for every penny can turn into a roller coaster ride where doubt that God will come through in the end threatens to derail the car at every turn.
Or when I need a little extra reassurance of protection, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeking security in things I can see. I fell headfirst into that trap last year (and still cringe about it). Dave was out of town for a few nights and I had just finished reading the book, "A Lion to Guard Us" to the kids. So when a snowfall presented us with an opportunity to make some snowmen, I decided to make a snow lion. And then, just as the little boy in the book drew comfort from a lion-shaped door knocker his father had given him before heading out to sea, I began to imagine we had a snow lion sitting out front, guarding us until Dave returned home. Pathetic, right? But that's exactly what idols are and what might start out as seeming all fun and innocent can quickly turn into a slippery slope down the path of destruction.
And that is the deception of idolatry. It makes you think it's harmless and blinds you to the fact that you dethroned the eternal King, however momentarily, in your life. Thankfully, God quickly called me to account on the "snow lion incident" and I pray He uses it to sharpen my awareness to idols that want to creep into my life.
For creep they will. But we have the reassurance from Jesus in John 20:29 that we are blessed when we have not seen and yet believe.
And, in the words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians,"I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (chapter 3, versus 12-14 NIV) Amen.