I am reading through the Bible; one chapter a day. I am in the Book of Judges. Throughout the Old Testament, when the children of Israel turned from their wicked ways and sought God’s face, they are told to ‘put away their idols’. I wondered about that. They had the presence of the Lord right there in the camp and yet, they had idols in their tents.
Judges 17 talks of Micah. The chapter begins with Micah confessing to his mother and returning money that he stole from her. Verse 3 made me stop reading, go back, and re-read four times. His mother told him “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image;” Say what? She wholly dedicated money to the LORD for her son to make an idol for him! Say what? I was stunned by the audacity of it all. The statement itself is telling and one ought to know better, right? How are you going to say in good conscience that you are going to dedicate something, anything, to God and, with said thing, do wickedly with it?
In my endeavor to apply God’s word, knowing that His word is applicable for instruction in righteousness, I wondered how this applied today? Who keeps idols made of silver, or wood, or any such shrine and think that it is imbued with power to help humanity?
God is gentle and He is gracious. He delicately pointed out to me that I have idols in my life. The idols I have in my tent where thoughts. My idols aren’t something you can come into my home and view. It isn’t something I wear around my neck. My idols are the mental constructs I’ve been grooming for years. They are the places that I go to escape the present. Many would argue that having a mental happy place isn’t a sinful thing. Mine are because I would retreat there instead of seeking God’s face.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:5 “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” I was NOT taking every thought captive. I was allowing my thoughts to run amuck! I knew when I was dwelling on, relishing in, or being swallowed by thoughts that I should have kicked out but I kept on thinking them. I enjoyed them. I liked the feeling it gave me. I knew when my thoughts failed to be true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous, or praise worthy. I knew it, yet I continued in them. That my friends is an idol; anything that puffs itself up against the knowledge of God.
I’ve been apart of church meetings before; countless times actually. I’ve been apart of a community of believers all of my life. None of the meetings were harsh, conducted cruelly, or any other horror story you might have heard. When I was old enough to understand what was being discussed, I was always uncomfortable when the Pastor’s salary was brought up. That is a private matter. No one else is asked to state what their rate of pay is. I felt like I was invading his privacy.
I understand why, of course. In my experience, by the time it gets to the church meeting, a decision has either been made or there are two choices for the church to vote on. Taking the time to strategize and come up with solutions before the meeting makes the conversation more finite and not wholly discussed publicly.
Yesterday was the first time my finances were laid bare during a church meeting. It is just as uncomfortable for me now, being under laser focus, as it was when I was an unwilling participant. I felt so vulnerable! I couldn’t hide from it. It actually needed to be discussed but it was still icky-touch uncomfortable. Our congregation is fantastic though. No one made me feel uncomfortable. There was no added discussion that made something already hard, harder to bare. It was just difficult because that private area of my life was the topic. My family’s financial challenges was the topic. What we have and don’t have could easily be surmised from what was shared.
I’ve had rough patches being a Pastor’s Wife. This was another rough one. I wanted to hide after the meeting was over. I didn’t anyone to look and find deficiencies in our appearance based on what was shared about our finances. It was hard, but God set us up for blessings.