I have a confession to make: I've been worshipping idols.
Yes, I know idols are a sin. I know the Bible warns us against them. I just didn't realize that what I had was an idol.
One of the most powerful passages in the Bible about worshipping God versus idols is in Psalm 24. I've read this Psalm for years. I've studied it, and prayed it, and spoken it out.
But I've always bypassed one of the most important parts, thinking it wasn't important at all.
Psalm 24:3-4 says this:
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.”
My focus in this passage has always been the part about having clean hands and a pure heart. I've begged God to give me clean hands and a pure heart.
But, I've never paid any attention to the part about “who has not lifted up his soul to an idol.” And that's one of the parts that I've needed change on the most…
Because I've been worshipping idols without knowing it. Here's the backstory:
Until a few years ago, I was always up and down, up and down. I was so emotionally ungrounded that I'd swing from enthusiasm and belief one moment, to self-pity and despair the next.
God broke that off me when He allowed me to go through a financial crisis that lasted for years. That season of testing, although unpleasant, brought a lot of stability into my life. At this point, I am usually able (by the grace of God!) to stay filled with faith and hope instead of self-pity. (Thank You, Holy Spirit!)
But like an onion, here comes the next layer. This is what God has been dealing with me about the last two weeks.
See, there are certain things I really enjoy. One of them is getting good news. God has called me to be an intercessor, so I am praying for a lot of people and situations. It's just who He's made me, and I love doing it. It's very fulfilling to me. After all, we're never more like Christ than we we intercede for another; His whole life was one giant intercession for mankind. So interceding in prayer is fulfilling.
But, as much as I enjoy intercession, the real buzz comes when I get good news that is a direct answer to prayer.
Getting good news is just over the top for me, and that's ok. Jesus said, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
My problem has been that I have had to have good news in order to be happy. And that means I've been worshipping idols.
See, my “soul” consists of my mind, will, and emotions. My soul is like the cup in the photo, being lifted up, ready to be filled.
When my soul-cup is empty, I have two choices. I can lift it up to God, and let Him fill me up with excitement, peace, hope, and joy, out of His own presence… because that is Who He is. Love, joy, peace, etc are the fruit of His Holy Spirit; He exudes those things wherever He is.
Or, I can lift my soul-cup up to other things, and get my fulfillment from them.
The problem is that when I look for fulfillment from any source other than God, I am setting up an idol for myself.
- When I allow myself to be happy when I hear good news, but refuse to be happy in God alone, then I have declared to God that my fulfillment comes only from good news, and not from Him. I have lifted up my emotions–literally, my soul–to the idol of Good News.
- When I allow myself to be happy only when my husband says just the right thing to me, then I have lifted up my soul to the idol of People Must Treat Me Right.
- When I can only be happy when God answers my prayers in my way and in my time, I have lifted up my soul to the idol of My Will and My Timing.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? He who has not lifted up his soul to an idol.
Unfortunately, I've been lifting up my soul to idols for many years, and I never knew it. I've been seeking fulfillment from good news, from what other people say and do, and from having circumstances go just right… instead of being willing to have all my emotional needs met by God and God alone.
Tomorrow, I'm going to blog about how to change that. God is showing me how to just get really raw before Him and let Him fill my mind, will, and emotions.
But until then, can you identify? Have you ever lifted up your mind, will, and emotions to idols?
Read the follow-up post here: How To Stop Lifting Up Your Soul To Idols
Image courtesy of Alex Brune on Flickr via Creative Commons license. Image has been cropped and graphics added.