Idols Check

30 Jul

I John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”

There is much teaching right now about functional idols and functional idolatry in our lives.  We are often urged to “do an idols check” to see what may be getting in the way and stopping us from utterly abandoning ourselves to our Lord in love.  What might an “idols check” look like, in practical terms?

An effective check is to see what our reaction is when we appear to be losing something or someone we cherish.  Do we fight like a wild animal to maintain our hold on that person or thing, or do we turn him/it loose just as soon as we sense God may want that to happen?  Can we hold everyone and everything in life loosely, excepting our Lord?  Anything He would need to pry from our hands in order to get it is, indeed, an idol.

Knowing full well that my heart can be an idol factory, as John Calvin once said of every human heart, I thought of an example to share.  This experience helped me discover that, thankfully, someone I feared might be an idol in my life was not.  It was a good “idols check” in a time of crisis.  And that is not to say I have never had an idol in my life, but only that, this one time, I did not . . .

The year was 2003.  It was June, getting near my birthday.  My son and husband had gone for a walk at the nearby beach.  I put a boxed pizza in for dinner, pulling it out to cool when it was ready.

Back then, we had dial-up access to the Internet.  We only had one phone line for the house (we later got a dedicated line for the computer).  I had to constantly remind myself to put the phone line back into the jack when I was done using the computer, or the computer would stop us from getting incoming phone calls.  We also didn’t yet possess cell phones.

I went on with my Saturday night preparations for our Sunday activities.  I got hungry, but didn’t really notice the time ticking away until I looked at our pizza and saw its edges were curling up into a hardened blob of cold crust.  Looking at the clock, I saw it was 9:00, three hours since my men had left for the beach.  Why were they delayed?

Suddenly I realized I had been on the computer earlier and had left it plugged into the phone jack.  Quickly switching the lines, I wondered if there had been a call, a message.

There had.  There had been about ten calls, nine from Noel and one from an ambulance attendant.  Our son Joey had been pulled out of the Chesapeake Bay in a state of drowning.  I needed to rush to Virginia Beach General Hospital and meet the ambulance there.

The last of those messages had been left over an hour ago!!!

Rushing to my car, I headed for the hospital.  Merging on to the interstate, I realized that I didn’t know whether our son was dead or alive at that moment.  I prayed for God to enable me to keep driving.  I was so uncomprehending of the situation at hand,  in so much shock, that I knew I was not capable of making that drive to the hospital through the Saturday night traffic headed for the Oceanfront.

And it was then, in my franticness, that I felt God’s presence take over for me.  I was truly overwhelmed beyond the ability to go on.  But He was not.  And, in that moment, I knew that whatever reality met me at the hospital, things would be okay.  Things were in His hands and He had not been taken by surprise.  I realized that I could even survive losing my son to drowning as long as God was with me.  It was one of the greatest fillings of His reality I ever had!  He is more real than we are, and able to sustain us in all circumstances!

As it turned out, our son was alive, but he had to be transferred to Children’s Hospital and kept overnight for observation.  He had swallowed so much seawater that his electrolyte balance was way off (a body can’t take in an unlimited amount of salt).  So even after the water was pumped out of his lungs, he still needed to get rid of the excess of salt trying to make its way into his cells.

But there was so much grace, too.  Joey had not looked like he was drowning.  He had actually appeared to be having fun in the water as his dad watched him.  But he was struggling to swim ashore, getting pulled further and further out.  When he finally tired of the struggle, he had the presence of mind to lay his arms on the water with his head in between them.  Noel and another man soon noticed he had done this.  So did a doctor in Alexander’s on the Bay, a fancy restaurant.  The doctor left his meal and plunged into the sea with my husband and the other man, getting rescue breathing started on Joey before the ambulance ever arrived for him.

God was so good to allow our son to survive.  But He would have still been good even if the unthinkable had happened.

And I learned through this painful night that God can be trusted, even with the lives of our family members.  We do so much better to trust Him instead of making our family members into idols whom we think we need to protect in the place of God.

There is actually so little in life that we control.  When we make an idol of a person or thing, we act as though we can fence that person or thing off for ourselves.  We can’t.  And we don’t know God’s ways, but we do know God.  We can trust Him with the people and things that are precious to us.

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One Response to “Idols Check”

  1. Kathleen Lawrence ( Amber Spurlin's Mom ) July 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM #

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above the heavenly host. Praise Father , Son & Holy Ghost. Amen!

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