Allowing God to purify us of our idols.
Sometimes life looks like a frozen field, desolate and barren. The dreams and hopes we had have all died one by one- like lifeless flowers underneath the cruel weight of snow. There are times when we feel farther from God than we ever thought we would, and just the thought of being so far away from Him paralyzes us. It’s so scary to find yourself in such a place. Have you ever felt as if you don’t even seem to know God’s heart anymore? I have. Maybe you trusted Him in the past but as more and more of your life fell apart you started losing that trust little by little until you sometimes wonder if you trust Him at all; the chaos in your life leaves no room for hope. You know, so many times we feel as if God let us down because He seems distant but the truth is that our sins hid His face from us. The tragic thing is that we so often forsake God and fall in love with idols. This “falling in love” is subtle and it usually happens over an extended period of time; it might even catch us by surprise if we’re not living in close communion with God. Idolatry always leads to destruction- the destruction of our peace and safety when we start to realize that our idols are powerless to save us. God is a holy God and He sometimes wounds us in order to purify us, no matter how much it might hurt Him to watch us suffer. God cannot compromise His character. In our pain and desperation, we lift our eyes to heaven and cry out to Him in anger but His reply to us is both unexpected and humbling: “Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant, I have done these things to you.” (Jeremiah 30:15, ESV). The same God that allows us to see the severity of our sin by chastising us is the God of whom Isaiah says: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). Sin is a serious matter and we all too often take it so lightly. We can get to a point when we’re so comfortable with sin that we become oblivious to the compromise that clutters more and more of our heart. There is no easy remedy for idolatry. Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t just forgive us the first time we confess if He took the blow instead of us. God forgives but He must purify us of our idols. He does not share His glory with another. Purification is the result of true repentance and true repentance can only take place when we fully grasp the magnitude of our sin by suffering the consequences. When the weight of your sin becomes unbearable, remember that God promises to give you strength: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:27-31). He also promises to show you the way to freedom from the captivity of idolatry: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”” (Isaiah 30:20-22). Yes, there is no easy remedy for idolatry but there is a sure one- the blood of Christ and He is more than interested in setting us free from our idols and becoming the only sacrifice upon the altar of our heart. If we are to let go of our idols, they must be smashed to pieces right before our eyes. It’s one of the most painful of experiences but restoring our relationship with God is worth even the deepest pain. If you find yourself in the aftermath of idolatry, don’t lose heart! God’s hand is still at work even when the smoke from the altars of idolatry in your life have made it almost impossible to see. Come before Him in humility, admitting your sin and asking for His forgiveness. Then allow Him to walk you through the process of purification. He might have already started it in your life. Instead of fighting against it, embrace it as a necessary step towards freedom. Though God might be angry with you, His anger is never intended to destroy you, but to save you. As you let go of your idols one by one and look to Him as your only Savior, He will be faithful in bringing the day of deliverance. His love has not reached its end.