Today saw a mighty miracle, at least in the life of a church-going mum with an active 4 year old. Are you ready for this? I actually got to listen to an entire sermon! And given that two of the three readings came from Joshua and John, my two favorite books in the Bible, I was pretty glad it was this sermon in particular.
Jill was talking about the Joshua reading – where Joshua tells the assembled Israelites to choose between worshipping the idiols of their ancestors, or worshipping Adonai, the God of Israel. They respond that they will worship Adonai, because of all He has done for them. She was saying that these days, we’re unlikely to have to choose between worshipping physical idols and God, but that we often have idols which get in the way of our focus on God. And as she spoke, it pretty much hit me like a hammer. I know exactly what my biggest idol is.
It’s no secret that pregnancy has been an issue for us in the last year and a bit. Two miscarriages in a fairly short period was pretty gutting, and the reality is that although another baby is possible, it isn’t likely to happen any time soon. I don’t know why I find this quite so hard – I guess it’s partially because pregnancy seems to strike at the very core of being a woman, and when my body can’t do it, or do it well at least, somehow it feels as if it’s me that’s failing. I guess the other part is that I’ve always dreamed of a bigger family, and it hurts to realise it’s less likely.
The problem is that it can become my focus. When I get stuck in those patterns of “I’m such a failure”, or I allow the desires of my heart to become more important than my relationship with God – it’s an idol. The hard part is that it’s so easy not to realise that’s what’s happening – after all, why wouldn’t God want us to have another? But when that becomes a key point of my faith, and my faith is dipping every month, I’m not thinking about the incredible blessings and grace God has and continues to lavish on me, but what I haven’t got, and that becomes the highest thing in my life.
We’ve all got them, I suspect. Those idols that can distract us from God. For me, it’s that temptation to find my fulfillment in the size of my family, rather than the size of God’s incredible love for me. And the worst part of it for me is that I’m not always sure that I want God to be the highest focus. I pray prayers like “I love you…but”. Or, “I’ll do this –if”. Hardly faith filled!
The good news, for me and for anyone else who struggles like this, with an idol that needs to be smashed, but where your deepest fear is that if you smash it, you smash some part of you – is that God s a God of forever tries. He can make my tiniest, messiest offering, and make it into something great. So when I come to Him and I pray “I want to want you most. But it hurts! Please give me strength?”, He can take my reluctantly proffered loaves and fishes and multiply them until I’m gasping in awe at His magnificence.
I have idols, and they need smashing. And I fear that surrendering it all to God – taking my pain and my hearts desires to God and leaving them there with Him is going to be an ongoing and painful process. I do believe though, that He’ll be there with me.
It – whatever it is for you – and for me – and for everyone – it’s going to be beautiful.