Lousy Gods, Great Gifts

We are creatures who are wired to worship. All of our affections, actions, emotions, and desires are continually coming together to declare the worth of something or someone. We find clues scattered throughout our daily lives as to what we see as having value, what we find worth our time, money, energy, longing, and attention.

Some things on my worship list: Downton Abbey (I know I'm not alone), food (specifically all things sweet), free time (which I get so infrequently that when it appears, I don't know what to do with it), being comfortable (this is all encompassing...comfy clothes, comfy temperature, comfy bed, a shower whenever I want it, but only hot ones please).

It's no secret that we are idolaters. We take the things of this world and give them more value than they deserve, while giving God less value than the things HE made. That sneaky enemy has us getting all wrapped up in worthless things before we even realize it. When our worship is misplaced, our lives slowly become a wreck, and eventually all we're left with is a pile of miserable garbage, which is unable to save us in our hour of need.

I've been weighed down by something for weeks, months, even years. The weight has gotten heavier and more unbearable as the days go by, leaving me at my wits' end as to what to do with it. I have been unable to bear the fact that my kids are growing up. I recognize that this struggle, like all of them, is a spiritual battle more than anything else. Clearly, I've been unable to humbly accept, with a thankful heart, the life God has laid out for me. I have sought to resign myself to the fact that this is the way God has ordained life to go and I need to accept His plan as a good one.

Yet I still found myself struggling. All my life, I've wanted to do what I'm doing today. Okay, maybe not specifically emptying the dishwasher for the 173,000th time or doing another four loads of laundry...but you know what I mean. Being a mom and a wife. Raising a family. Making a home for them. Not all lofty goals in the world's eyes, but always the desire of my heart. It's not easy or glamorous, or always enjoyable, but what really is?

The thought that I'm idolizing my family and my job as a homemaker has crossed my mind, and I've brought that to the Lord before. Yet, this nagging, sad weight has persisted, some days heavier than others. It seems inescapable at times and lonely almost always, because it seems like a very silly problem to have. Still, silly or not, the heartache that accompanies my babies no longer being babies has been a problem to me.

Today, however, the Lord so graciously opened my eyes to the missing piece. I have been seeking to remove the lie (that my happiness and worth comes from being a wife and mom) from my mind and dismantle my altar to my worthless idols, but I have not been effectively putting something better in their place. Jesus told us that if we get rid of a demonic presence in our house and get the house cleaned up, leaving it vacant, that darn demon will just come back and bring his friends to enjoy the new, clean digs.

My children and my husband and my home and my job as mom and wife make lousy idols. They fail to give me security, significance, or enjoyment on their own. Sure, they try to fill those voids and succeed from time to time, as I have pretty great kids and a wonderful husband, but usually they just leave me feeling dejected, defeated, and depressed when they become an end in and of themselves. I get that.

What I didn't get was that, while they make lousy gods, they make wonderful gifts through which to enjoy the one, true, satisfying God. Though I don't want to worship these things as idols, they are still realities (thankfully!) in my life, and realizing they are not the ends but the means to a greater end leaves me free to enjoy them.

What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

God created this world for His own glory, and marriage, family, and motherhood...even the process that our children go through of growing, learning, maturing, and changing are all in place to point to something, or Someone, greater.

My marriage is a wonderful blessing, and it brings great happiness to my life in many ways and on many days. However, some days it's hard. And then there is the fear of it ending one day, as it will since our lives on earth will end. If I'm worshiping my marriage or my husband, then the disappointment when things are hard, or the oppressive fear of being without him one day, rules my life. On the other hand, if I see my marriage as a reflection of my relationship with God, which is eternal and completely satisfying, and if I see my husband and his love for me as a reflection of the love of Christ, who will never leave me or forsake me, then I can rejoice in the fact that a perfect version of my husband's love will be mine forever. And then, I end up rejoicing in God, who has shown me more of Himself and His love for me through the gifts of my marriage and my husband.

My children are no doubt a gift from God. Sometimes they are a gift I wish came with an "off" button, but they bring joy and delight nonetheless. Yet on days when they drive me ever loving mad or in those moments when I see them leaving that sweet babyhood behind and my heart feels like it's breaking into a million little shards, their status as the god on which my happiness rests leaves me empty. By making them gods, I have robbed their status as gifts which point to God.

When I view them as gifts for God's glory, I can rejoice on the hard days, because they draw me nearer to my Savior. When I see them as gifts, not gods, I can enjoy their growing and maturing bodies and personalities because it points to their Creator, who is the One who made us as individuals to reflect His image in our personalities, who made us to grow and become more complete in Him, who made our bodies these amazing things with unbelievably complex parts and processes which work together to enable us to serve Him and point to Him as Imaginative Creator and a God of detail and purpose.

Marriage and parenthood, husbands and children are all miracles, because they are a small reflection of a great and mighty God. Lord, I don't want to make these things gods, because that ends up making them worthless. I want to enjoy them as gifts whose purpose is to cause me to worship their Creator in awe and with great love, which in turn gives these created things great value to me and to you. Let me allow all the gifts you've been gracious enough to give me reflect your glory, giving them eternal value and significance. The moon is only useful, beautiful and bright when it is reflecting the light of the sun. Likewise, your good gifts are only truly valuable when they reflect the value and worth of the One who gave them.


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