My youngest son has this stuffed monkey. He has 3, actually, but for whatever reason, he has decided that the smallest of them is a healing monkey. Every day, often multiple times a day, he will ask me if something hurts. If it does (which honestly, lately, is daily), then he gives me his prized animal to heal me. If I have slept with said item, the first question of the following morning will be if I feel better. I know it is just a phase and that he truly believes in prayer, but for whatever reason, this stuffed animal, for the moment, has become his source of good things.
Much as I hate to admit it, I think we can all fall victim to such a bent now and again.
As believers, we know where our strength and joy comes from, and yet we can so easily begin to focus on the good things in our lives in a way that our faith can get a bit fuzzy. Believe it or not, the shift can be slow, subtle and literally undetectable. Unintentionally, you and I can often idolize the very things that God has put in our lives to point our hearts back to Him.
Worship. Bible study. Small groups. Serving. Personal time. Marriage. Friendships. Children…
When we begin to shift from allowing God to move in whatever way He desires, to engaging in activities and relationships from the position that we are actually in control, or things must be done a certain way, we are actually giving in to idolatry. To function as though God’s Will must look or manifest under certain circumstances, is to begin to idolize the person or system originally designed to develop a deeper relationship with Him. When we have more dependency upon what ‘needs’ to happen, or how it should look, or we spend more time praying for our own plans and ideas of successful ministry, above the greater good of the world, and His perfect plan, we are idolizing (exalting, preferring), those things that we deem more valuable than what is actually on God’s eternal agenda.
For example, when we are praying fervently for more people in our small group, and miss the opportunity God has put into our hands by giving us intimate time with one or two because that is who He wants us to focus on, we are practicing idolatry. When we miss opportunities to minister to a group of people because we are unwilling to change the way we’ve been doing church, we are idolizing the system. To become so focused on our marriage that we forget our first love is Jesus, we are….
Being that we are created in the image of God, it’s very easy to begin to shift our true beliefs about who is really in control. We can say that it’s all God’s plan, but if our focus is not fluid, it’s easy to lose sight of what He wants to do above our plans and ideologies. Your bible study, breakthrough, small group and worship are only powerful, when you let God, be. He can use those things, to be sure, to bring about change and healing, but at the end of the day, without God in the mix, they are only magical monkeys.
May you find your own monkey today. And then put him back on the shelf where he belongs.