Who’s Your God? I think this is a question we need to continually ask ourselves as part of our daily life evaluation. Maybe we should just call it the “Daily Idol Eval”. However, on Friday, while getting chemotherapy, I was presented with a new thought in this area. I used to look at this just from the “idolatry” standpoint we see in Scripture. God clearly said multiple times that we are to have no other gods before Him, and we are not to worship idols.
Let me quote from “the Big Ten” here. Ok, for all of you sports fans who thought I was referring to The Big Ten Conference versus the Ten Commandments,….. let’s just say, maybe its time for the “Daily Idol Eval” in this area?! Then again, any Indiana fans (including my husband during college basketball season) may be interpreting this as “Hoosier God?”! :)
In Exodus 20:3-4 God says, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (NIV)
We all have our unique interests and hobbies that we are passionate about, along with time we give to our jobs and other demands in life. But, we have to continually evaluate how much of our time, talent, treasure, and energy goes into some of these areas to make sure they are not above our value of God and His mission in our lives.
While our 25 “Gail’s Girls” in Southern Asia are sharing Jesus, starting house churches, and transforming their communities through teaching trade skills, hygiene, first aide, literacy, and rescuing orphans, widows, etc., a lot of the idols in their culture will look similar to those we read about in Scripture. Idols as statues are being worshipped and sacrifices are being made to man-made gods. Our false gods may look different, but we worship them and sacrifice for them nonetheless. (Go to www.gailsgirls.org for more information.)
Although the thought I was presented with on Friday took a different twist, I read through various articles from writers who tried to identify some of our “American gods.” Not surprising, sports was usually high on the lists (from children’s to professional sports), along with money, power, sex, fame and celebrities. A couple of “gods” I had not thought about in this light were national security, rights and freedom, guns, science, pride in a "religious" lifestyle. Others that I clearly recognize are automobiles, ego, pride, self-indulgence with food, alcohol, drugs, gathering more possessions, etc., etc., etc.! It is not surprising that the Apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:16-17, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (NIV)
Now back to Friday….
If you have ever gone through a crisis in your life (and if you haven’t, you will –Jesus warned us it would happen), you tend to meet others or seek out others who have been through a similar situation. We have definitely seen this illustrated in Texas and Florida with the hurricane disasters. We have seen people helping people who are going through the same crisis. Part of the reason for this, as I have personally learned, is that you may empathize and sympathize with someone going through a crisis, but unless you have experienced the same crisis, you can not truly understand the struggles, the changes, the physical and emotional pain, the fear and even the growth that comes with such a crisis.
My family and I have met others at the cancer center that are also dealing with pancreatic cancer. Our new friends, Herb and Lesetta, are great encouragers and we share our Christian faith. Herb and Lesetta are what some personality/gifts tests would call “Includers”. There was a common bond instantly between Herb and I when we met, as we understood what the other was going through and facing. It was awesome to share that we are both trusting God with the outcomes and with each day. Every time Herb and Lesetta meet another patient with “our common crisis”, they introduce them to others, encourage them, and include them in “the group”.
Recently, we met another couple that share the same crisis and the same faith in Christ. Barry and Glenda came to talk with us for a while on Friday while Barry and I were receiving our chemotherapy treatments. Barry was sharing about how much he has grown in his faith since receiving this “death sentence”, as he called it. He went on to say that he has even been “thankful” for this crisis because through it, he has realized that “other things were more important than God” in his life. Then Barry went on to share about his continuing intense evaluation. While trying to understand and wrap his mind around this “death sentence” he had been given, and trying to deal with the thoughts, feelings, etc. that come crashing in, he shared, “I realized that the cancer had become my God”.
That statement jumped out to me like a revelation! It is so easy to allow the crisis – the cancer for Herb, Barry and I – to become the center, the god that now takes our time, our energy, our thoughts! All the ways satan would seek to use it against us to bring us deep into the tragedy and blur our focus on Christ. Yes – it takes our time for treatment, which comes with more issues, it takes our treasure, it steals our energy, it disrupts our lives, it hurts our family and friends, it changes our plans and our futures. But it cannot steal our joy, our love, our peace, our salvation, our hope, our chance to share our faith, our opportunities to help others – from the hospital even to Southern Asia! (It was also awesome to hear Glenda say that God has convicted her to make and sell some of her art projects, which she makes for various stores, to donate to Gail’s Girls!)
I have seen people go through crises in life who seem to get stuck there in the negativity and hopelessness it can bring. Let me encourage you with the wisdom Barry shared with me – DO NOT LET YOUR CRISIS BECOME YOUR GOD!!!
David gives us a picture of this struggle when Saul was tracking him down to kill him, in Psalm 42:9-11. It starts out sounding like the whisper of satan in our ear during crisis.
Psalm 42:9-11 (NIV)
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Let’s all do a “Daily Idol Eval.” Are we letting the common lusts and desires of this world become our God? Are we putting more time and energy into temporary things versus eternal? And believe me, my thoughts about the eternal are much more real to me these days! Are we allowing our crisis to be our God, or even daily struggles to pull us away from Jesus instead of closer to him?
We all struggle with these issues, and the Scripture actually says we deceive ourselves if we deny that we struggle and sin. If you identify an area where you are struggling right now, join me in being encouraged with these verses from I John 1:8 – 2:2
8 "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Big questions… But we serve a Big God!