OK--that was just my warm-up paragraph. Remember those weird little phrases you used to have to type over and over in typing class?
Here's the real meat. I have been doing a Beth Moore Bible Study called "Breaking Free" (for the second time--it's really good!), and this week I am learning about obstacles to my freedom in Christ.
One of these obstacles is Idolatry. Anything we try to put in a place where God belongs is an idol. In studying this concept, we were to read Isaiah 44. In this passage, God talks to the Israelites and tells them that He is God--that He is first and last and that apart from Him there is no other. God, speaking through Isaiah, goes further when He says in verse 9, "All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless." He says these people cut down a tree and with half of it they make an idol and half of it they burn for fuel and bake bread over it. Verse 19 says "No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, "Half of it I used for fuel; ... Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?"
But here is the verse that spoke out loud, verse 20, "Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?" Now, that grabbed my attention. Up until that, I had been reading, feeling pretty good about myself, saying "Good job, Tori, you don't seem to have any idols." But guess what? God did what he does so well, and he pointed out an area that I didn't really want to see. He allowed me to see myself as I really was and not as I thought I was. Those kind of revelations make me feel bad about myself--in a good way--in a good way! (as my friend, Tony Horton would say)
"Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?" Yes, it is. Here's why. Sometimes I hold onto things--in my attitudes and thoughts--things like preferences or judgements--because I feel entitled to them even though they are LIES. These LIES fit me. They are the way I think. They are the way I do things. They are obviously the right way--that's what I think. In the Haverkamp household, we call this way of thinking "hiking"--in reference to hiking the Superior Hiking Trail (which we have actually hiked upon--in the literal sense--twice)--get it--hiking? superior? It is a way of thinking that judges others and elevates self.
I often hike. In the non-literal sense. And I think its OK, but it's not. That way of thinking is an IDOL. That way of thinking reveals that I have not yet become Absolutely and Entirely His. That way of thinking reveals that I have not let Him permeate and captivate my every thought. That way of thinking tells God He is not First and Last and that there is another--it's me. (See my first Isaiah above if you are confused).
Why do I use some of my thought processes to judge and condemn others while in the next synapse connection, I use some of those same capabilities to show God how much I love Him? Why is this starting to sound eerily similar to Isaiah 44? It is starting to sound similar because it is the same thing. I judge and I hold opinions and I think myself superior. Those things are worthless to God.
Tonight, as I write, and as I try to remove this now-obvious plank, there is a sense of sorrow. This is the feeling I always get when God directs me to remove yet another part of myself that is not reflecting Him. There is a sadness that accompanies the banishment of these very comfortable and familiar behaviors. But the worldly sadness is always replaced by Joy when I see that God's way truly is SUPERIOR.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."