Today’s guest post is by Robyn. Check out her blog at www.upwithmarriage.wordpress.com
First I’d like to say thank you to April for the opportunity to share on this subject of how we make idols in our lives; even the good things.
It was a good and righteous prayer; an honest prayer. “God please save my husband.” But diligence and fervency turned my heart inward instead of outward. I lost sight of why I was praying. As the heart is turned more and more inward it fails to see the cosmic picture – God’s view.
My view was narrowed over the years until I saw only lack, the lack of answered prayer and how it affected … me.
The good prayer for my husband’s soul had morphed into a demand to make my life easier. I had made his salvation about me. If I was a better wife, or mom, or Christian than he would surely see that God is real. If I was a better daughter to God – He would answer this prayer. If I was a better daughter to God He would … (wait for it) … (here it comes) … Give me what I want.
It happens silently and ever so subtly, very much like the frog that is sitting in cool water and as the water heats, the temperature builds but; isn’t noticed. And before she knows it, her own flesh is cooking and peeling – and she’s blind to it. Really, how can anyone even tell you? From the best intentions of the closest friends, “Robyn, do you realize that you pray for your husband too much?” Doesn’t sound like something you’d hear from a Christian, right? Praying too much? And who wants to be the Christian to say that?
You can see from April’s list that all of our idols root to the same foundation: Give me what I want. We allow focus into our own little dramas (which are short sighted and temporary) rather than growing into the bigness that is required for God’s plan.
All God’s promises became elusive to me: Joy, contentment, power, peace, discernment, strength and love. On and on it went. My head became full of knowledge – desperate to alleviate the lack: Lack of God’s presence and intimacy. My unhappiness grew in parallel to the knowledge I gained.
And this was the key that God used to back me into the corner of using my own strength. When you’ve exhausted every avenue within your power and you still don’t have what you are praying for – the thing that will make you happy.
This is how you know that you’ve built an idol: You refuse to be happy where you are at.
In 1 Samuel 1:8, Hannah is asked by her husband: And why are you grieving? Am I not more to you than ten sons?
The key word was grieving. I hadn’t been praying in belief, trust and expectation of the Lord; but in my own strength. My words sounded like belief, trust, and expectation – but God showed me that my heart was not joyful – in Him. You cannot be happy and grieve at the same time. Hannah wasn’t getting what she wanted and her grief was affecting the relationship with her husband.
I wasn’t getting what I wanted – and it was affecting my relationship with God.
I had prayed to God and added my own conditions to those prayers. Just like the frog from earlier – I didn’t know that I had stepped from faith into death. When you get to this place of blindness you must be bound in order to see the true condition of your heart. But as it was with Job, God doesn’t want to bind to hurt us, He wants to help us get beyond ourselves to see the real Him: I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You. (Job 42:5)
When I was at my lowest point with nothing left, God confronted me: “What if My plan for you is to be married to an unbeliever for your whole life? What will you think of Me then? Am I not worth more to you than your husband’s salvation?”
Whatever it is that you are praying for; that thing that you so desperately want, you have to ask yourself: Is it worth more to me than God? Or, can I be joyful in Him … without it.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God…. ’God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:1-10