Friday, February 3, 2012

An Unlikely Idol

As I think about a perplexing friendship and my eighteen-year-old son who doesn't feel the need to fill me in on all the details of his life, I realize that there is very little I can do about either of these relationships.  I do not understand, nor can I change, the friend's turnaround in behavior toward me, or convince my son that he does still have a responsibility to respect parental authority even though he is legally an adult.  Yet I find myself fretting daily over these strongholds in my life. 

Praying through these matters yet again, I sensed the Holy Spirit gently impress upon me that I had allowed both individuals, or at least my desire to fully understand and control them, to become idols in my life.  Generally we think of idols as things we desire more than God, but I wonder if sometimes we ourselves don't become an unlikely idol by trying to figure out what only God can know or resolve what only He can fix. 

As a parent, I have spent eighteen years teaching my son right from wrong, modeling God's principles for living, and praying that somehow he would comprehend and choose to live according to those principles.  While not a total rebel, my son has his own ideas about God, life, and what constitutes responsible behavior.  Having experienced my own moral failures as a young person, it is hard for me to stand by and watch him make his own mistakes, yet that is how he must learn.  Consequences are perhaps the best teacher of the principles for living which God has established in Scripture.  Who am I to force an adult to do anything he doesn't want to do?  God gave us free will, and while as parents it is up to us to guide our children into following God's will for their lives, there comes a time when we can no longer impose our will, or God's, upon them.

Perhaps you are not a parent but are in a relationship that has left you frustrated and bewildered.  Let me encourage you not to turn that frustration into an idol, but rather surrender it to the only One who fully understands your heart on the matter.   Rather than ask God to change that individual, ask him to change you and to use the hurt to draw you closer to Him.  The pain you feel can only become peace as you steadfastly focus your mind on God (Isaiah 26:3).

God does not condemn you for the way you feel (Romans 8:1), but He longs for you to trust and draw near to Him.  "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (1 John 3:19-20).  Even when you cannot voice the deepest hurts and longings of your heart, God knows.  He cares.  He is waiting with open arms to comfort and love you, if you will but draw near by faith.

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