It’s 6 a.m., and the alarm is beeping relentlessly. Decision time: Slap the snooze bar, or up and at ’em?
These days my feet hit the floor with great anticipation for what the Lord has planned for me. In prayer and in His Word, I get my marching orders for the 24 hours ahead.
It was not always that way. Before my life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ in 1980, my bed was my hiding place; the clock, my enemy; sleep, an idol. If only I could hide in eternal night, free from the responsibilities of marriage, family, life in general. I hated myself, and I was sure God hated me too.
Each new day was torment for me. Desolate, depressed and despairing, I held my husband and children hostage with my unpredictable mood swings. The addictions and compulsive behaviors that wreaked havoc in my life were like idols on a throne: alcoholism, prescription drugs and a host of cross-addictions to such things as cigarettes, soap operas, the occult, shopping, exercise, volunteering, food and toxic relationships.
My life was out of control. If one thing didn’t work, I’d try another. And another. Even death began to seem like a welcome change of scenery.
Little did I know that the Divine Physician stood patiently by, waiting for me to surrender my destructive self-will to Him. His plans were to heal me and prosper me, to give me a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).
But I was too distracted by my idols to notice.
A Recipe for Pain
How did I arrive at such a place of pain, shame and rage? Actually, I followed the classic recipe. Place the following ingredients in a mixing bowl:
- A dysfunctional family in which the child’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are not met
- One or two addictive parents, hooked on something—alcohol, drugs, work, food
- Abuse—sexual, emotional or verbal
- Poor personal boundaries
- Fear of rejection or abandonment
Add a heaping spoonful of shame. Fold in unforgiveness, rebellion, pride. Add a pinch of perfectionism, control, low self-worth, anxiety and denial. Sift in generational curses and family secrets.
Mix thoroughly until batter is well-blended. Warning: Mixture will tend to be lumpy. Bake anyway for several years in an alternately hot and cold oven.
My dad was a workaholic; my mom, a ferocious fighter of dust and wrinkles (she had OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder). I was an only child, the glue in their loveless marriage. When I was 5, an uncle sexually molested me.
As an adult, I was an easy mark for Satan’s heavy artillery of addictions, compulsive behaviors and unchecked emotions. These became idols that usurped God’s rightful place in my life—just as the enemy had intended.
Bill W., founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, called addictive behaviors “self-will run riot.” Self, the baby, wants the throne all to itself, surrounded by its toys: alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, work—the list is endless.
But there is good news. Our wonderful Father God will move heaven and earth on our behalf to set us free from compulsions and addictions by the power of His Holy Spirit. His arm is not too short to reach us in the deepest pit of our sin and rebellion.
The key word: surrender. We must surrender our self-will and seek God’s will for our lives.
Tearing Down Idols
The flesh is a relentless, carnivorous beast. Its insatiable appetite cannot be appeased—except by divine intervention and healing.
If only we would realize that Christ alone can meet the needs we attempt to satisfy by indulging our fleshly desires. In Him, we can be overcomers; with Him, nothing is impossible. All other idols must fall away when we put Him on the throne of our lives.
Idolatry occurs whenever we put anyone or anything—spouses, children, careers, ministries, addictions—equal to or above God. When we are more responsive to their demands than to His will, we’ve plunged into idol worship.
God is a jealous God. He will share His glory and His rightful place in our lives with no other. “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,” He told us (Ex. 20:5, NIV).
God created us to have fellowship with Him. In fact, this is the reason He sent Jesus—to restore the intimacy He had with us before Adam and Eve destroyed it in the Garden of Eden.
God’s love toward us is like a refiner’s purifying fire (Mal. 3:2-3). When we feel as if the heat is being turned up underneath us, it probably is!
God is shaking everything that can be shaken in our lives, our families and our churches so that all the idols we have put before Him will fall down. He is preparing a bride who will have neither spot nor wrinkle.