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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Confessions of an Idol-Worshiper


I guess I'd better start by explaining that title.

I have worshiped a lot of idols in my life.

The TV,

Computer games,

Favorite shows,

Good books,

Myself -

Especially myself.

I am an idol-worshiper.

However, there is one thing I have worshiped that I never considered to be an idol:

My view of God.

(Okay, before you stone me for heresy, note that I said "view of" and keep reading.  I promise I'll explain.)


It was last semester that he said it,

Trying to teach us Biblical wisdom,

Explain the character of God.

He said that when we see God as less than who He really is

We are worshiping an idol.


An idol.

I have been worshiping an idol.

 
I grew up in the church,

Learned how God was loving,

Omniscient,

Omnipotent,

Omnipresent.

I thought I knew God.

I never realized there was more to the picture,

And he told me,

How God is Just,

Wrathful,

Righteous,

How He does everything for His own glory.

In my arrogance I thought this God was selfish,

Until he said that for God to worship anything other than the One True God would make Him an idol-worshiper.

I started to get the point,

Started praying to know this God more,

To know God as He is,

Not the idol I'd been worshiping,

But I never really did anything about it.


That is, I never did anything about it until now.

Lent came and He drew me to Himself,

Used my sense of obligation to draw me into who He really is,

Used who He really is to help me to find fullness of joy,

Begin to glimpse the pleasures forevermore.

I started counting,

And counting,

And counting,

Digging in to who He is,

And never wanting to stop.


In my counting, I ran into this:

Exodus 4:24-26

New International Version (NIV)
 24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
God was going to kill Moses.

I'm sure that, in reading my Bible, I must have read the passage at least twice.

So how did I not know that was in there?

You'd think something like this would stick out.

I was a little shocked.

The thing is, though, I was shocked that I didn't know it was there.

I wasn't shocked that God would act that way.

It's kind of funny.

The American church loves to talk about God's love,

Say how perfectly loving He is,

And never mention passages like this.

So American Christians tend to look at it and say,

"How could You do such a thing, God?

I thought You were loving."

Since I'm confessing today,

I'll confess there was a time that would have been me.

But now I'm starting to know God,

And in starting to know God,

I see Him as so much more than just loving.

(And He is Loving - please don't think that in talking about attributes like wrath and justice that I've forgotten that God is also so many other things - Good, Gracious, Merciful!  I don't mean to imply that He is not those things, but what I need to say is more about what's ignored than what's mentioned on a regular basis.  The point of this is that I want the whole picture, leaving nothing out, including both love and wrath and everything in between.)

I see that He was Patient with Moses far beyond what I would have been,

That He showed Himself to be Glorious and Holy in His interactions with Moses,

That Moses' incessant complaining provoked His Righteous Anger,

And that He showed Himself to be Wrathful in almost killing Moses,

Yet He listened to the pleas of Moses' wife

And chose to use the imperfect human who worried too much about what he could do,

Never even considering the Power of God.

It doesn't shock me that God almost killed Moses.

It's in His character to be Just and Wrathful.

What shocks me is that He didn't,

That He chose to glorify Himself instead through His Mercy.

Then, when I think about it,

What shocks me even more

Is that He let me get out of bed this morning,

Rather than killing me in my sleep.

Me,

A selfish, conceited, faithless idol-worshiper.


I think the church thought it was doing me a favor,

When, growing up, it told me about how loving God is,

Leaving out all the gory details,

How He commanded that people be slaughtered,

Ordered the earth to swallow people whole,

Sent down fire to incinerate those who oppose Him.

The crazy thing is, they weren't doing me a favor at all.

This only-loving God isn't the God I want to worship

Because an only-loving God isn't God at all.

I want to worship the God of the Bible.

I want to stand in awe of Him,

Be amazed at His character,

How He can be both Loving and Wrathful at the same time,

And be surprised that my understanding of not only His Love and Goodness

But also His Justice and Wrath

Just makes me want Him so much more.

I'm sick of worshiping idols.

I want the real thing.


I supposed I'd better qualify that statement.

All this has made me realize that I am always going to be an idol-worshiper,

That I will never, ever fully, truly know God,

(Hence my utter dependence on His infinite Mercy and Grace)

But I can make an effort to know Him more,

And that's exactly what I've been doing.

I'm counting to four hundred -

Then ten thousand! -

Finding endless reasons to worship God

Just

Because

He

Is.

Numbers 278-373 this week:
  1. He is willing to leave His people in order to preserve them (Exodus 32:3-5)
  2. He speaks to those He chooses as one would speak to a friend (Exodus 32:11)
  3. He calls out leaders (Exodus 33:12)
  4. He knows His people by name (Exodus 33:12)
  5. He finds favor in some (Exodus 33:12)
  6. He is pleased with some (Exodus 33:13)
  7. His Presence goes with His people (Exodus 33:14)
  8. He gives His people rest (Exodus 33:14)
  9. He does what His people ask when He is pleased with those whom He knows by name (Exodus 33:17)
  10. He causes all His goodness to pass in front of one who asks, one He chooses (Exodus 33:18-19)
  11. He proclaims His name in the presence of one who asks, one He chooses (Exodus 33:18-19)
  12. He has mercy on those whom He chooses (Exodus 33:19)
  13. He has compassion on those whom He chooses (Exodus 33:19)
  14. He will not allow anyone to see His face (Exodus 33:18-20)
  15. No one may see Him and live (Exodus 33:20)
  16. He covers with His hand until He passes by, that His face will not be seen (Exodus 33:22-23)
  17. He removes His hand, that one who asks, one He chooses may see His back (Exodus 33:18-23)
  18. He is compassionate (Exodus 34:6)
  19. He is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6)
  20. He abounds in love (Exodus 34:6)
  21. He abounds in faithfulness (Exodus 34:6)
  22. He maintains love to thousands (Exodus 34:6-7)
  23. He forgives wickedness (Exodus 34:6-7)
  24. He forgives rebellion (Exodus 34:6-7)
  25. He forgives sin (Exodus 34:6-7)
  26. He does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7)
  27. He does wonders before His people never before done in any nation in all the world (Exodus 34:10)
  28. He does wonders that the nations might see how awesome the work is that He does for His people (Exodus 34:10)
  29. He drives out nations before His people (Exodus 34:11)
  30. He warns His people not to make treaties and allow the ungodly to be a snare among them (Exodus 34:12-13)
  31. He alone is to be worshiped (Exodus 34:13-14)
  32. His name is Jealous (Exodus 34:14)
  33. He warns His people not to prostitute themselves to other gods (Exodus 34:15-16)
  34. He commands people to celebrate (Exodus 34:18)
  35. The first offspring belong to Him (Exodus 34:19-20)
  36. He offers – commands – redemption (Exodus 34:20)
  37. He forbids that anyone come before Him empty-handed (Exodus 34:20)
  38. He commands that his people rest (Exodus 34:21)
  39. He commands His people to appear before Him (Exodus 34:23)
  40. He is the God of Israel (Exodus 34:23)
  41. He drives out nations when His people follow His commands and appear before Him (Exodus 34:23-24)
  42. He enlarges His people's territory when His people follow His commands and appear before Him (Exodus 34:23-24)
  43. He keeps others from coveting His people's land when His people follow His commands and appear before Him (Exodus 34:23-24)
  44. He demands the best of the firstfruits (Exodus 34:26)
  45. He sustains (Exodus 34:28)
  46. He chooses (Exodus 35:30)
  47. He keeps (Numbers 6:24)
  48. He makes His face shine upon His people (Numbers 6:25)
  49. He is gracious to His people (Numbers 6:25)
  50. He turns His face toward His people (Numbers 6:26)
  51. He gives His people peace (Numbers 6:26)
  52. He puts His name on His people (Numbers 6:27)
  53. He speaks from between the cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law (Numbers 7:89)
  54. He speaks in the desert (Numbers 9:1)
  55. He commands His people to set out (Numbers 9:18)
  56. He commands His people to encamp (Numbers 9:18)
  57. He remembers His people when they keep His commands (Numbers 10:9)
  58. His anger is aroused by His people's complaints (Numbers 11:1)
  59. He sends fire to consume those who anger Him (Numbers 11:1)
  60. He listens to the prayers and pleas of those He chooses (Numbers 11:2)
  61. He becomes exceedingly angry (Numbers 11:10)
  62. He gives and takes away the power of His Spirit (Numbers 11:17)
  63. He gives His people – six hundred thousand men – meat (Numbers 11:18-23, 31-32)
  64. His arm is not too short (Numbers 11:23)
  65. His word comes true (Numbers 11: 18-23, 31-32)
  66. He gives 1 3/4 tons of quail for each person (Numbers 11:32)
  67. He strikes those He is angry with with severe plagues (Numbers 11:33)
  68. He hears what people speak (Numbers 12:1-2)
  69. He reveals Himself in visions (Numbers 12:6)
  70. He speaks in dreams (Numbers 12:6)
  71. He speaks to those whom He chooses face-to-face (Numbers 12:8)
  72. He speaks to those whom He chooses clearly and not in riddles (Numbers 12:8)
  73. He leaves those whom His anger burns against (Numbers 12:9)
  74. He strikes people with leprosy (Numbers 12:10)
  75. He disgraces those whom He chooses (Numbers 12:14-15)
  76. He gives reasons when He chooses (Numbers 12:13-14)
  77. He causes His glory to appear before His people when He chooses (Numbers 14:10)
  78. He forgives when His servant asks (Numbers 14:17-20)
  79. He withholds rewards from those who disobey Him and test Him and treat Him with contempt (Numbers 14:21-23)
  80. He tells his people to turn back because that's what's best for them (Numbers 14:25)
  81. He sends His people out into the desert (Numbers 14:25)
  82. He makes people suffer for their sins (Numbers 14:34)
  83. He turns against those who grumble against Him (Numbers 14:34)
  84. He does what He says He will do (Numbers 14:35)
  85. He kills those who grumble against Him, sending a plague (Numbers 14:36-38)
  86. He is not with those who turn away from Him and He allows them to be beaten (Numbers 14:42-45)
  87. He commands that those who break His laws be put to death (Numbers 15:32-36)
  88. He brought His people out of Egypt to be their God (Numbers 15:41)
  89. He destroys those who band together against Him (Numbers 16:1-35)
  90. He proves His intentions (Numbers 16:28-34)
  91. He causes the ground to swallow the wicked, their families, and their possessions (Numbers 16:28-34)
  92. He sends people alive into the realm of the dead, with all their possessions (Numbers 16:33)
  93. He sends down fire to consume the wicked (Numbers 16:1-35)
  94. He puts an end to those who oppose Him (Numbers 16:41-49)
  95. He accepts atonement for the wicked (Numbers 16:46-48)
  96. He stops plagues (Numbers 16:46-50)

(Counting 10,000 Reasons together just below this - keep scrolling!) 

Linking up at A Holy Experience today, trying to share the way God's been changing me through this.  For more on how the 10,000 Reasons Challenge relates to sacrifice, read last week's post.



Also, please look at some of the other beautiful posts found at the bottom of this one.  Maybe bless the author with a comment?  It's a blessing to know that God has used your imperfect words to bless another.


If you'd like to join us in counting 10,000 Reasons to worship God?

You can find the challenge here,

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6 comments:

CynthiaJSwenson said...

This is good Mary; I love your passion! Keep up the good work! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Mary said...

Oh, thank you! I think I tend to ramble a little too much, but it really is because I'm passionate about God. And I truly appreciate the encouragement. I was a little worried that this post might be one easily misinterpreted. Love and prayers for you, also!

Tanni said...

I enjoyed reading what you wrote. Love how you are counting through the bible. God is love and He is so much more. I am confident that you will discover Him more and more as you count. And that joy will overflow. Blessings to you. :)

Mary said...

Oh, thank you, Tanni! I can't really take the credit, though. It's all Him, these things that He's been teaching me - and it's so true: He is not only love, but also much, much more. Blessings to you, too!

Sylvia R said...

Hi Mary,
Still counting! It's hard to stop sometimes! And I see you're almost at 400 already! God bless you, sister. May he give you a beautiful weekend filled with His praises!

Mary said...

Hi, Sylvia!
I'm so glad! It really is hard to stop sometimes! Yes, I've almost reached my goal, but I wanted to keep going, anyway. It's been such a blessing to me!
God bless you, too, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

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