Someone once said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us… that beginning to end, it expresses His longing for us, His passion for us, His devotion to us.
It also tells us He is jealous for us… righteously, that is. He loves us so faithfully. He wants us to love Him the same way. Completely. He desires our whole hearts, all of our love and devotion – just as He gives us all of His.
“If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 AMP)
But too often we have other lovers on the side… and we turn to them to meet our deepest desires, our greatest needs. We look to them to comfort us, strengthen us, sustain us. We think they will shield us and protect us. Provide for us. We think they will give us what we want, what we need, what we just can’t live without.
There are two words for this in Scripture: adultery (the spiritual kind) and idolatry.
There are so many verses in the Bible that we think don’t apply to us, because we don’t bow down to statues!
But when we are unfaithful to God, disloyal to Him, when we worship someone or something else – a dream, a desire, a goal, the comfort that epic shopping or binge-watching Netflix or eating a whole pan of brownies brings – it’s the same thing!
When we give anything or anyone the place in our hearts that belongs to God, it’s idolatry. When we turn to anything or anyone other than God to meet the deepest desires and longings of our hearts that only He can fill, it’s idolatry.
Over the last ten or fifteen years, I’ve read some great books and Bible studies that have helped me see the grip that it’s had on me (off the top of my head: Idol Lies by Dee Brestin, Love Idol by Jennifer Lee, Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst).
That’s why for years and years, the prayer of Jonah has been one of my favorite Bible prayers. And why I love this week’s memory verse in our Virtual VBS for GrownUp Girls:
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:8-9)
It reminds me how ultimately worthless and empty and meaningless my idols are – how worthless and empty and meaningless their promises. They never deliver. They never really come through for me.
When I stubbornly cling to them, I miss out – I “forfeit” or surrender or give up – the grace that I could experience. The grace God wants to give me. The comfort and strength and peace and hope and joy He promises me.
“God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.” (Psalm 18:30 NLT)
So again and again I return to my first Love, my True Love. Grateful that He always takes me back. Through my tears, I thank Him for the storms, the wild winds and the crashing waves that bring me to the end of myself and cause me to cry out to Him. I tell Him how much I really do love Him. How much I want to love Him with all my heart.
And I work on rooting out those idols, smashing them to pieces.
Clinging only to Him.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…