Archive for the ‘Idols’ Category

What Do You Trust?

I had a lot of questions after reading the exam reports from the hospital. Some of the findings were downright scary. I had checked into the Emergency Room a few days earlier because of feeling a tightness in my chest and wanted to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack or aneurysm.

But after all the tests, they didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong.

Now, I was headed to my doctor’s office for his interpretation of the results. He is a “no sweat” doctor who is good at putting medical jargon into its proper perspective. I was desperately trying to depend on God’s promise to help, strengthen and uphold me (Isaiah 41:10), but I was still nervous. I had several imperfections in my body that made me feel fearful. I leaned heavily on God’s promise to run interference for me. Since God is sovereign, I asked him to control what the doctor said to me and pictured Jesus leading the way, telling me to “Stay behind Me, I will handle this.”

And he did. He used the doctor to address each of my ten concerns. Some issues were not a big deal, but on others he coached me on things I could do to reduce the problem. I came away from the appointment greatly relieved and encouraged.

I trusted God to keep his promise to uphold me. I relied on the truth, and received his help.

But it’s hard to trust the truth we know. It’s like knowing  God will protect us if he wheels us across Niagara Falls in a wheel barrel, but not so sure we are safe when we are sitting in the barrel being wheeled across. It’s much easier to depend on truth when we don’t have to deal with our doubts and fears.


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A friend of mine recently shared how he didn’t measure up to his mother’s expectations. He gave an example of how he once got a 103.9% in a course, and it wasn’t good enough. Why? There was one other child who got better, a course score of 104%.

When I heard this I couldn’t believe it. I said, “This is insane! How long did it take you to figure out that your mother was wrong?” I asked. He answered “Many years.” Many years! This is a crazy standard to have to live by for many years. And I still wonder how much he has been affected by setting impossible standards for himself.

Then I recalled my wife. She knew God loved her. But this wasn’t good enough. She needed more. She needed the approval of others to feel loved enough. So, she twisted herself into all kinds of behaviors to be liked and approved of by others. She lost the freedom to be herself and rest in God’s approval as being good enough.

Both my friend and my wife recognized their bondage to sinful beliefs. These were beliefs like, “I must be the best, in order to be worth much.” Or, “ I have to be liked by everyone to be greatly loved.”

Relying on these false beliefs enslaved them for many years. Now, they have learned to experience considerable freedom as they have learned to rely on God more to meet their needs for worth and love.

So, are you living free on this 4th of July and everyday of the year?

US flag on blue sky with clouds and sunlight with phrase

What Living Free Means

Living free is not just avoiding government oppression. It is also living free from beliefs and behaviors that hinder us from living a life of joy and power (Hebrews 12:1).

For example, do we have a difficult time resting from the busy week? “But there’s so much to do. If I don’t do it, who will?” we may say. But this answer may show that we are actually in bondage to the false belief that there is no God who is faithful to help get things done even when we take time out to rest.

Living free is not being controlled by our circumstances. It means we face the day living in the reality that nothing will happen to us that God has not allowed. “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen” (Job 37:13). This means that we can face scary and difficult circumstances knowing that God is carefully watching over us.

Living free is living without idols. John Calvin says that our hearts “are idol factories.” What are your idols? Popular idols include being accepted by certain people, promotion, food, achievement, success, and meeting self-imposed standards. The list is endless. The common denominator is that we are looking to meet our needs in them apart from relying on God to meet our needs in his way and in his time.

So, how can we live in freedom on the 4th of July and everyday of the year?

How We Can Grow in Freedom

One of the first steps to freedom is recognizing where we are failing to be free. We can best do this by asking God to show us (Psalm 139:23-24).

We can’t rely on what we already know about ourselves because we are good self-deceivers. He will be faithful to show us how we are failing to live in his truth when we sincerely ask him.

I started doing this several years ago and was I surprised! I found I was in bondage to what people thought of me to be okay and to achievement to be important. I am living in greater freedom now resting in my identity as a child of God and God’s viewpoint of me.

Another path to greater freedom is difficult times. As we embrace them, they shake us out of our complacency and commitment to the status quo. Our pain can drive us to depend on God in deeper ways. As Paul discovered, “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). That power can lead to trusting deeply in God’s great love, respect, and acceptance of us instead of trying to earn them through an idol.

Finally, we need to realize that we will need to wait until heaven to be completely free from our bondages. May we be comforted by his promise that “I will continue to give you greater freedom in this life and finish the job when Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6, Paraphrased).

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