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IF YOU asked my family to describe me, they would most certainly include the word "obsessive" in their characterization. If something new sparks my interest or I come across a new hobby, I can think and speak of nothing else for days--maybe weeks.
When I want to know more about something, I research that topic day and night. From the two weeks that I spent researching roller blades before buying my first pair to the months spent learning how to bake my own bread, the list goes on and on. The flute that I had to get that very day, baby-wearing, spinning, knitting, weaving, any Apple product and don't even get me started on genealogy. The research on that one never, ever ends.
If I am honest with myself, though, all of these things became idols in my life. None of the above are necessarily bad; in fact, in their proper place they can be very good. It is when they are placed in the center of my life, the place where only God should be, that they become a problem.
The first two of the Ten Commandments focus on God's desire to be first and foremost in our lives. In Deuteronomy 20:3-4 God says, "You will have no other gods before me. You will not make for yourself an image in the form of anything above or the earth below. You will not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God."
Even so, God's jealousy is not the "green-eyed monster" so often associated with human jealousy. Instead, God's jealousy stems from His desire to be on the throne of our lives.
I believe it is safe to say that the majority of Christians have never physically bowed down to an image that we have created. Unfortunately, many of us have still broken these commandments.
When we put all of our thought, time, effort and money into something other than God, that thing has become an idol in our lives. When my identity becomes that of "knitter" or "runner" or anything other than "child of God," I have stepped out of God's will for my life.
I heard a great analogy once that goes like this: Can you imagine being married to someone who didn't mind if you dated other people? Most of us would be hurt and would doubt our spouse's own fidelity and love for us. Scripture speaks of God's jealousy in terms of being like a husband's for his wife when he finds out that she has been unfaithful.
We can identify the idols in our lives by asking ourselves some simple questions: Do I spend all of my time, energy and resources on something that God created, at the expense of my time with Him and my family? Is my identity wrapped up in something other than being a child of God? Do I get more joy, comfort and peace from the created than the Creator? Does this thing draw me closer to God or take me further away?
Many things, good and bad, can become idols--cars, alcohol, sex, drugs, houses, boyfriends and girlfriends--even our own children.
Once we have identified our idols, we need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to help us lay them down and learn to worship Him alone. We need to change our habits and our focus to be completely on Him. Instead of being a "knitter," I am a Christian who happens to enjoy knitting.
I am sure that we can all look back over our lives and see times where God was jealous for us and asked us to give something up for Him. Most of the time that is a very painful process. We must keep a constant vigil to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes, for it is much better to willingly hand over our idols than to have God--because of His great love for us--remove them from our lives.
Heather Ablondi is a women's ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. Contact her at heatherablondi.com.