It was a normal June day full of sunshine. I had taken my then two-year-old daughter to the pool one afternoon to play. As she played in the water I noticed her paddling with her face in the water like we had just practiced in her swim lessons. “She’s doing great,” I thought to myself. A few seconds went by and I realized she wasn’t bringing her head out of the water.
I went to her and picked her up out of the water and her eyes had rolled back in her head. Her little body was limp. I started beating her back. The lifeguard came to me. After a few seconds water came out of her mouth and she starting coughing. She was okay.
How did I miss her being in distress? I was 12 inches away from her in the water.
How did the lifeguard miss it when there were two kids in the entire pool? Why? How? I remember tucking her into bed that night and thinking, “How will I ever get over this visual in my head?”
For one year, every day and many nights, I would wake up panicked over that event. My children’s safety became a deep fear for me that I couldn’t even fully articulate to my husband. I suffered deeply over guilt of the accident and fear of what could happen next. The closer we got to spring the next year, the more anxious I became.
One Sunday I was home from church with our newborn and my husband gave me a summary of the Sunday sermon. He told me that our Pastor spoke about giving the Lord the praise for everything in your life. Many times we suffer in the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have happened’ instead of seeing the provision and protection of the Lord. At that very moment I felt this wave of conviction come over me.
I knew at that point I had made my children’s safety an idol. I was steeped deep in a sin that was all consuming and it had shackled me down for over a year. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21) filled my heart.
Safety and healthy fear is not necessarily a bad thing. I teach my children to fear running into the street because a car could hurt them. We lock our doors to our home as a proper level of safety for our family. But what began to happen in my life, based on my painful experience, was that no one could protect or care for my children but me.
I became so convinced of this that I even didn’t trust my husband. One day I started crying when he was going to take them on a bike ride. I gave him a list of five or six things he had to do to make sure nothing happened to them. In a gentle way he said to me, “Don’t you know I would lay down my life for them? You have to stop this.” But I didn’t stop and it got worse. I cut the Lord out of this area of my life and it felt very dark. Tim Keller summarizes an idol best in his book, Counterfeit Gods:
“It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.” (Taken from Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods)
I didn’t see my own self-dependence growing until my husband shared the sermon details with me that day and the Holy Spirit penetrated my heart. I immediately confessed my sin before the Lord and asked Him to give me a spirit of gratitude for protecting my daughter. All I thought about the previous year was, “Why did that have to happen” instead of, “Thank you, Jesus, for protecting her.”
My heart immediately changed and for the first time in a year I didn’t wake up thinking about it. I had renewed confidence in my husband and others entrusted to care for her. I gave that area over to the Lord and He freed me.
My heart’s cry began like Psalm 51:1-4 but in God’s great compassion and mercy, my heart began to sing a new song of praise just like from Psalm 40:1-5.
Do you have an idol in your life? God can free you from it and give you victory. He restores all things!Leave a Comment
Thanks for sharing:)! God bless
Lisa todd says
Thank you for sharing so transparently and on such an important topic. It is a daily challenge to not make our children idols.
Poignant and true for me as well. Thank you.
WOW. This devotional really made me stop. That’s me. My kids are older now but I feel like I inherited this fear for my kids’ safety from my mother. The part that really got me was where you said, ” I cut the Lord out of this area of my life and it felt very dark.” This is how I am about driving. I am afraid to drive in certain situations and I’ve put the fear on a throne instead of God. I’m a Christian and this is how I’ve been handling it, just staring at it and trying to change it on my own. Thanks for sharing from your heart and blessing us.
Angela Mix says
This brings tears to my eyes because I too live in fear for my family’s safety. I worry all the time about what might happen….Fear and worry takes the place of my trust in the Lord and I try to control things that I have no control over. I want to trust more and worry less. I need to pray more about this. Thank you for sharing your story!
Kathy Cheek @ In Quiet Places says
So glad to read your story and how God gave you victory over that fear, what a teachable moment, and what a blessing to move forward in your life now free of constant worry.
Thanks for sharing 🙂 I have a couple woulda- shoulda- coulda’s in my life that can definitely be considered idols.
Thank you so much for this post! It came at exactly the right time, and was incredibly convicting. Out of random curiosity, do you happen to know if your church has their sermons online? If so, I’d love to try to find and listen to that sermon.
I do not think I have any idol in my life. I think of JESUS all the time and how I can reach HIM deeper and further and more. My first LOVE. HE is my first LOVE.
Sometimes in life, things happen and others need things to happen and as a true disciple and apostle of our LORD, we lay aside our needs and fulfil the needs of those we love and walk along the path of love according to God’s will and purpose of things. This is what love truly means. To deny self and give to others.
In the process, we have forgotten our dreams and visions that the LORD has for us but in the walk of self denial, the LORD, HE blesses in the abundance of HIS great and mighty LOVE and we receive more than what would have been. The pure and holy walk of a true disciple and apostle of Christ our LORD.
The LORD is high and lifted up in my life. HE is my ONE and only God. How do I know this. Well, in seers it’s as simple as, I see HIM, high and lifted up in my life. I see HIS LIGHT. HIS GLORY. HIS immanence. The life of a seer is such that because we see, we act. We act accordingly to love.
JESUS is my ONE and only true God. The HOLY ONE of Israel. My Saviour, Redeemer. HE is high and lifted up. Can you all see HIM. I can. Open the eyes of my heart LORD, I want to see YOU, I want to see YOU.
I am a worrier by nature and so it takes a concentrated effort for me to turn my fear over to Him and let go of my worry. On most days, I do pretty well with letting go of the constant worries that roll around in my head regarding the safety & well-being of my children & husband (police officer) by just praying for each specific thing as it pops into my head and then letting it go. But, reading this post, I realized that the idol I haven’t truly turned over to the Lord is money. Not my worship of money and material things, my constant worry & fear because we are struggling financially. Right at this moment we have $14 and some change in our checking account. I lose sleep at night worrying about our account being over-drawn, again, running out of gas, buying milk at $5 a gallon…It is so hard to not be consumed by the fear and to turn inward for a solution. I pray all the time for help, for an answer to our financial woes, but I haven’t prayed about my all-consuming fear. I pray the Lord will help me to truly turn this matter over to Him in every sense, I pray that I will have nothing more than the needed awareness and ability to plan financially, instead of the peace & sleep robbing fear which has been my idol.
Lora Armendariz says
Thank you. I feel like those words were written just for me. Fears getting in the way of my relationship with God and becoming an idol have happened to me as well, but I never thought of them in that light before.
Joanne Peterson says
Thank you, through the years I have had different idols, this depending on the season of my life. A child who kept stealing and kept lying, fear she would lead a life unproductive and destructive, money worries, fear of home being burglarized again, fear of how I was doing homeschooling, etc., etc. I did pray, all of the time, but I didn’t understand what was my job and what was Jesus’ job. I am getting better with the not worrying because I am understanding better now than I did before that my job is to pray and to trust the Lord for His Provision from my spoken and unspoken prayers. This was/is a many year process. I have not arrived, but hope to keep improving. God is good and God is faithful!
WOW. I never, ever, thought of my fears as being idols. what a revelation. you have opened my eyes to a truth today, that I have never heard before. (tears)
Beth Williams says
Superbly written post! I thank God for this post today!
It never occurred to me that we could have “idols” in this world today. I usually think of idols like the ones in the Bible–things or people you pray to. Would not have thought that any time something takes over you and you leave God out of it–then it becomes an idol.
Superb post & timely! Thanks for writing!