My pastor pulled a real dirty trick last week. He preached through a sermon on idols and then asked us to figure out what ours were and turn them over to God. It did not take much thinking: eternal non-satisfaction is my biggest thing, the one thing that rules my life and makes it impossible for me to be content. Part of my personality is that no matter how good it is, it can always be “tweaked” into improvement. I’m lenient with others and their lack of perfection but not myself.
One week into this quest to give God my dissatisfaction I’m finding it both liberating and difficult. It’s freeing knowing you do not have to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, but hard to reach that point where it’s good the first time through, where you do not go back and change little words here and there or tilt your head and examine a layout and think, “Nah, it could be better, even if I just spent six hours on it.”
We tend to think that idols are things we worship, but what is worship other than total focus? An idol to us seems more likely to be a television show or a favorite shirt rather than an emotional issue that we deal with. But anything that holds us in bondage is an idol; anything that dominates our waking moments. It can be fear, insecurity, doubt, ambition, even an obsession with our appearance or our writing. Idols do not have to come in favorable packages, they do not have to be attractive – was the Ring pretty enough to enslave Frodo in The Lord of the Rings? No! But enslave him it did, because he thought about it constantly.
So what is it that dominates your thoughts? Is it a quest for perfection? Is it fear? Is it a reluctance to trust God? Is it being constantly self-conscious of your appearance or the state of your hair? Is it your desire to lose weight?
Bob (my wonderful, Transformers-loving pastor) said an idol is something in your life that you cannot control, that you cannot let go of without help. For me, that is (and has been and may very well be for the indefinite future) my never-ending quest for “being better.” It makes me dissatisfied where I should be content. It makes me look at things that are lovely and think, “I should improve that, but how?” And while some amount of ambition is good, not if it causes you to never be happy with yourself, your surroundings, or your efforts.
Find contentment. Figure out your idol and give it to Christ. And bask in the joy of liberation.