I have shamelessly taken advantage of being out of school as I can now spend time reading for enjoyment and devotionally rather than reading according to a deadline. One book in particular that I had to put down during the semester is Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick. If I was ever given the opportunity to lead a women's Bible study, I can attest that this is probably the first book with which I would begin. During the conference Elyse spoke at on campus a couple of months ago, she made a sobering statement that I think is very true. In commenting on her experiences traveling and counseling women, she stated that women in this country are crying out for truth. In this self-esteem driven, image-saturated culture, women are in need of hearing the truth in regard to sin and the Savior. I am overwhelmingly reminded of this as I am reading through this particular book. As I am nearing the final chapter, here are just a couple of quotes that have pierced me to the core:
- Idols aren't just stone statues. No, idols are thoughts, desires, longings, and expectations that we worship in the place of the true God. Idols cause us to ignore the true God in search of what we think we need...I'm not saying that it's wrong to make nice dinners for your husband, exercise properly, or work diligently. If motivated by love of God and others, each of these things can be good. But these actions become sinful when you do them primarily to satisfy your desires instead of to please God. (23, 25)
- Our wills are doing what they were created to do. It is not the will that is out of synch with the heart when we say we want to worship the Lord and then worship other gods. It is our words that are at variance with our strongest desires and inclinations....It is choosing according to our overriding thoughts and desires, although, because of its sinful bent, our will is more strongly drawn to sin than to holiness....If you wonder why you choose to worship other gods rather than wholeheartedly devote yourself to the Lord you love, examine the thoughts and desires that captivate your heart. That's where you'll find the answer to every sin and failure in your life. Don't be deceived into thinking that you need to develop more willpower. (144-45)
- The truth about the choices we make is plain. We don't consistently choose the Lord because we don't really desire Him...and we don't really desire Him because we're not convinced that choosing Him will result in our happiness. (150)
These "idols" are going to look and manifest themselves differently depending on the individual; we each have our bents toward particular patterns of sin. However, our sin is common in that it comes down to pride and our desire after the Fall to be ruler of the little kingdoms we try and create for ourselves. There are very specific, difficult sin issues this book by Elyse has applied to in my life, ones that are dealt with and tucked away in the pages of my journal. But there are common questions I can share here, questions posed early on in Idols of the Heart that apply directly to each of the unique hearts the Lord has given us. These questions take the abstract discussion of "idols of the heart" and expose how such idols play out in our daily lives and in the decisions we make:
What do I believe about the source of true happiness in this circumstance?
What do I believe about God in this circumstance?
What do I believe about myself--my rights, my goals, my desires?
What am I trusting in?