Melinda took a well deserved evening off, left the kids with her husband, and went out with the girls. The sense of freedom exhilarated her. Conversation flowed pleasantly and so did the margaritas.
She got a bit too tipsy, but drove home anyway. She parked quite crookedly in the garage, dizzily stumbled into the bedroom, and instead before brushing her teeth the sudden sensation of nausea hit her.
After 20 minutes of her stomach repulsing the alcohol, all the way down to stomach acid souring her throat, Melinda fell into bed and passed out. The next morning her head was foggy but her conscience was clear. “That was so wrong. I’ll never drink again!”
She lays off alcohol for the rest of the week, until the weekend, and the right meal which calls for her favorite wine. “Just a few sips,” she promises herself successfully. The next weekend, Melinda, her husband and kids spend a day at the lake with another family, and the drinks are flowing. Cool. Refreshing. Numbing.
Yes, numbing. Melinda’s remorse over getting sick on margaritas regretted the consequences, but not the action. So she’s convinced that she can still enjoy the action of drinking while avoiding the unpleasant consequences.
Truth be told, it’s not so much the activity of drinking that Melinda enjoys, but the numbing effect of the alcohol. It allows her to escape, to hide, to pretend that life is care-free with no missed deadlines, no disappointments, and no needy children.
One of the greatest delusions of our idols is that they convince us we can have a casual relationship with them—and not get hurt. When we overdo it, a moment of clarity calls us to quit but is soon replaced by the lies we’ve been believing. We can keep indulging, just at a moderate level.
Shopping. Gaming. Social media. Sports fan(aticism). Career loyalty. Home improvement. Sexual fantasies. All these, and many more, make promises to us that they can give us what only God can give. Perfect peace. Enduring happiness. Fulfilling identity. Relief from regret. Success with people.
We get away with infidelity by claiming that these can have a legitimate place in our lives. And that’s their deception. That’s what makes them idols.
There’s a man in the Bible who cuts down a tree, and we find it unbelievable that he can use it for two strikingly different purposes.
“Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill … From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, ‘Save me! You are my god’” (Isaiah 44:6,17).
Doesn’t he understand how silly this is? Don’t we? We cannot have a casual relationship with anything that wants to be an idol.
Listen to your regret when it comes to the times you’ve given in and wish you hadn’t. Better than remorse is repentance. Better than guilt is godly sorrow that says, “I can’t manage this. God, I need this idol uprooted from my heart and replaced with you.”
And God says, “Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22). That means, he has purchased you for a special purpose. A divine purpose way better than serving idols. Find it. Fight for it.
PRAYER: I can’t manage this. God, I need this idol uprooted from my heart and replaced with you. Redeem me to return to you. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Spend some time in Isaiah 44:6-23. Listen with your heart. What is God telling you about an idol that has been lying to you? Meditate on God’s words. Pray for understanding, appreciation and taking them to heart for life-change.