Friday, May 30, 2014

Armchair QB: Idols? Who me?



I am still in Judges, still captivated studying Gideon. God showed up, out of no where, and called Gideon, the guy preparing wheat in secret, a mighty warrior. This seems to have turned Gideon's understanding of himself upside down.  He pushes back that God seemed to have abandoned them, that there is no way Gideon could save the people.  After this first exchange, Gideon prepares an offering and God consumes it all in fire.  Only after this demonstration of power does God seem to have Gideon's full attention.

Gideon is instructed by God to tear down  his family's idols. Being that he was part of God's chosen people, the Israelites, that seems like a no brainer, right? But as I work thru this story, I begin to wonder: what idols do I have?

The passage of Judges tells us what kind Gideon's family has. The same as their neighbors. The same as the people oppressing them. Is that because, as Gideon argued, that God had been absent for a while?  Is it because obviously their enemies were overpowering them so their gods must be better?  Or was it just a sense of complacency-the newest fad, keeping up with the Jones'?

But Gideon's family, his whole clan, was called to be more: they were called to be God's Chosen People, in much the same way a young man tending to grain was called a Mighty Warrior. So why would they settle for the gods of others? And then my idols become clearer.

I don't struggle with big sins: lust, booze, even my anger has been tempered. But I do find myself comparing myself to others.

Most of my friends have completed college degrees and several are in masters programs, a couple even in doing doctoral work. I have yet to finish my undergrad, but there is this nagging sense that THEN I will be complete, have more opportunities, or simply seen as intelligent & qualified. Granted, I make more money than my better papered friends, as do many people who have even less education than me. Still, the degree somehow offers to validate me.

Another one is even more subtle. There are some amazing women in church! They have enough kids each to make a basketball court. They are kind and seem to always say the right thing. They bake bread (and even hamburger buns....never knew you could do that, seriously) and whoopie pies. They make jams and applesauce (and whipped cream which was another discovery).

Then there is me. 

Oh, but I do wish I were more like them. I mean, obviously they are excellent examples of what a Christian woman is to be, right? I can only claim that I have been unchurched, untamed, for so long really. At some point, I have to either get with the program and act more like them or become convinced that I am a failure of sanctification, my idolatry tells me.

But it isn't true. Not really. However it isn't just because it is a lie. I have friends for whom these things-higher education or a particular role for women-fits just right and they thrive. The reason it isn't right is because it isn't necessarily right for me.  Because it isn't who God called me to be.

God called Gideon and the Israelites to particular things. Certainly idolatry is an issue, but isn't the larger issue the heart which says what God calls me to isn't trustworthy so I am trading the insecurity of that in for idols, representations of what makes life work like for others? 

It is scary to say God is enough. It is frightening to lay my life out before him and say, "You will sustain me. You will provide. You make my life enough. Even if I never finish my degree but just continue studying on my own. Even if I would rather train pups & study Scripture & shoot guns than bake bread or sign up for the meal train or learn to sew. Even if I write words that will only ever be published on a blog but never reside in a library or be held in another's heart. Even if I go on vacation but never a mission trip. Even if I never reach my goal weight. Even if...."  There are so many little idols to tear down, altars hidden in the dark corners of my heart.



1 comment:

Valerie said...

Your post is honest, transparent, and insightful. Giant makes great bread, applesauce. And hamburger buns. Cool whip is also very conveni ent. Not many can write like you....but hey, who is. Comparing?? I admire you in so many ways...ways to which I could NEVER aspire ....but...truth be told an idol is an idol...I have my own...thanks for letting us see inside your heart!