The title of this blog was a song made famous by country music singer Johnny Lee and was also part of the soundtrack of the movie URBAN COWBOY (now I'm showing my age:). It is hauntingly biblical in it's premise, which I'm sure was not Johnny's intent. Yet this searching for love, approval and happiness finds real meaning not only in hit songs but also in scripture and in our very lives...each and every one of us.
Refining trials of life are meant to do one thing, I am now convinced; to revalue the idols of our life and put them in their proper position and perspective. God does not want any believer to place more value on their happiness, success, relationships, love, etc....than on Him. If you look at most stories throughout scripture, there is usually a problem with an idol in someone's life.
We can build an idol out of anything, or anyone. We can strive for happiness more than God, for love more than God, for success more than God, for great kids more than God...the list goes on. I've recently come to learn and realize that even your closest relationships, the ones you thought you couldn't live without, easily become idols. Once they are seen for what they are....it's much easier to live a life of what my friend and counselor, Ken Curry, calls "Holy Indifference." Our focus should always be on what God is wanting and how we work out our story and journey with Him, no matter what deserts or trials come about. When pain takes our focus off of God and onto what we need to feel better, we've created an idol.....a little god that makes us feel better than the BIG GOD that is letting us walk thru the desert.
It's also interesting that we like to move from one idol to the next, so that life feels better to us. When one god is "not being a very good god." There's always another one to take it's place...and we are so good and finding them! My own hope is to replace the idols that pop up their ugly heads with one true thing that I can rely on and worship.....Yaweh Himself. Other small idols will make me feel better for a while, but ultimately leave me feeling empty and still searching.
I recently made a list of my idols. I tried to be brutally honest with myself and with God. He has certainly refined my outlook on life and my desire to love Him first above anything else in life. I feel like I'm on a path toward understanding Job...where losing anything can result in just worshiping Him. It is a process though...as we all want love, acceptance and affirmation from life and from those around us. Still, we must keep those in perspective, not as idols, but as blessings.
Timothy Keller in his book, Counterfeit Gods, has a great definition of an idol that goes something like, "when a blessing of life becomes the thing that is the focus of life, it becomes an idol." Abraham had to be willing to kill his ultimate blessing, Isaac. Isaac had become an idol in Abraham's heart and God knew it, so he asked him to sacrifice it. Just when God knew that Abraham was willing to obey God above holding on to his blessing/son, God did not require death of the idol, just removal from Abraham's heart. At that time, God was first in Abraham's life. Abraham's example is what we must also do with all the relationships and blessings of stuff in our life....put it on the altar, draw the knife and start the killing of it. Perhaps God will will save it from death, perhaps not. But the point is not whether we keep the blessing or not, it's whether we keep God first or not.
This removing of idols is not a pleasant journey to be on, but one that delivers the promises of James 1 where the perseverance of following God brings about a maturity of faith. That is a promise worth keeping my eyes fixed to!