I was reading in Hosea this morning and saw this verse in chapter 13,
When Ephraim spoke, trembling,
He exalted himself in Israel;
But when he offended through Baal worship, he died.
I started thinking about idolatry in my life, asking God to show me areas where I still turn to idols instead of Him. The first things that came to mind are fairly obvious, things like over indulgence meaningless entertainment or sins I continually struggle with. But as I prayed and thought, it occurred to me that idolatry may take shapes and forms in my life that aren’t as blatant.
Think about Israel’s idolatry for a minute. Baal was a Caananite god of rain, thunder, fertility and agriculture. In a society largely dominated by herding and agriculture, could there be any more important deity? In fact, the name Baal means “master or lord.”
So when Israel turned to Baal, what they were really saying is, “God, we do not completely trust you to bring us rain and favorable weather and fertility for our crops and herds. We will also worship this local deity, just in case you let us down.”
Now I’m thinking about idolatry in my own life, and it’s making a lot more sense. I’m seeing the things in my life that I’ve turned to for security instead of God. I’m seeing those areas that I’ve “hedged my bets” and spread the risk out to more places than just God. While I may not think it consciously, what I’ve said in many areas of my life is, “I don’t fully trust God, so I’ll make sure I have a plan B in place.”
So while I haven’t bowed my knee to a little statue, I’m guilty of idolatry nonetheless.
What to do about it? Well, the first step is to recognize God’s grace in my life, grace that covers even my worst unfaithfulness in the blood of Jesus. Second, I start looking at those areas where I don’t fully trust God. What are those areas where I rely on my own plans, my own strength, or my own talent? Where do I have a contingency plan just in case God doesn’t come through?
It’s not easy to look in those secret places of the heart, places we haven’t dared explore. It’s hard to let go of my back up plan, leaving it all in God’s hands. It’s scary to abandon all my options and trust fully in Him. But if I’m going to live a life that’s truly surrendered, a life that’s finally becoming what He intended for it to be, I’m going to have to take that leap.
Anything else is idolatry.