My family members and I all go to youth group. I guess it is because hubby and I never really grew up that we go too. We love to go to youth group. I frankly feel like our youth pastor is a personal gift from God straight to my heart. When he speaks, I feel like God opens wide my heart and pours in a message straight from heaven. When he worships, I am brought before the throne of God and find myself with bended knee and bowed heart.
This past Wednesday, he asked the kids (including us “old” kids) what our New Years resolutions were. Fifteen and sixteen year olds answered things like “Giving up soda…” or “Getting along with my family.” I kept my yap shut this time because the only resolution I have had because of the “New Year” is one I didn’t want to share. Well, I was willing to share it, but figured it might not help Pastor Tony make his point. My resolution was “I will not make any New Year’s Resolutions.”
Why? you may ask… Well, a whole host of reasons. I find the artificial nature of creating promises to myself and God because of the calendar very shallow for me personally. God calls me to make decisions *daily* to resolve to this or that. It never ever ever has a thing to do with the date.
Furthermore, I realize my tendency to get very obsessive about “goals” or “resolutions” made with the flow of the world’s standards and expectations.
But it was odd how I felt at youth group, harboring this little known fact about myself…that I will not make “New Years resolutions.” I felt like I was some sort of unspiritual, church lady fraud--a rebel. Surely, I should be willing to make a resolution of some sort! I mean, other than “No resolutions!”
Today, while searching for a writing sample to send an editor for a project, I discovered an article I wrote some time ago…December of 2002, in fact, for Thin Within’s ThinLine magazine. I share it here in case it resonates with anyone. Funny how over 7 years later, it says what is on my heart so well!
An Idol Worth Chasing?
Draped in angelic robes of godliness, adorned with prayer, “obedience” and “repentance” as watchwords, my latest idol has been the all-consuming focus of my life, yet very cleverly disguised. Robbing me of joy while subtly deceiving me into thinking all is well with my Lord and me, my idol has been a relentless slave master that can never be pleased.
Lifting my eyes for a moment, I finally hear the voice of Jesus wooing me over the deafening sound of my idol. In this place, I have a moment of clarity.
What is this idol that has held me spellbound? It is The Goal…The Goal of being thin. The Goal of being godly. The Goal of getting rid of the weight. The Goal of eating between 0 and 5. Bear with me while I explain.
Does the Lord want me to enjoy a healthier body? I have no doubt that he does. Does he want me to eat according to the God-given cues of hunger and fullness? Surely! Does he desire godliness in my life? Absolutely. Then what is the problem? What do I mean by declaring The Goal to be an idol?
The heart of the issue: God wants SO much more for my life than even these wonderful things.
You see, I have been pursuing my GOALS—to the exclusion of all else. To the exclusion of seeking HIM. Because my goals seemed heaven sent, it has been rather easy to fall into this trap. However, the madness that has driven me, the self-condemnation when not arriving or even making headway or “progress”…none of that focuses on the Lord. It focuses on…ME.
Someone wise once said that preoccupation with SELF is at the root of all sin. If that is true, and I believe it is a biblical principle, then these wonderful goals that I have sought after have been a truckload of sin in my life. Nothing should have my focus, my heart, my thoughts like this. Nothing but the Lord God Almighty who reigns over heaven and earth.
Worshiping the idol, The Goal, has caused an inordinate amount of pressure to be on my shoulders. Not just on my shoulders, but gouging deeply, HARD upon my chest where my heart lies, being squelched of love for the Lord. In my place of error, I have wondered “Why isn’t it enough, Lord?” “Why won’t you reward my efforts?” “What am I to do with what I feel has been such sacrifice without any pay off?” You see, I have thought that IF I do such and such, then God would do what HE is supposed to do. But He hasn’t been behaving! My pursuit of The Goal has caused my understanding of God to divert from a scriptural view. I have gone so far as to question “How can God be GOOD?” My image of God has been shaped in the shadow of my Idol. A form of godliness emptied of its power. I have been disillusioned, dismayed, disappointed …and downright angry…at GOD. Thankfully, He can take it.
Seeing this now, however, I am appalled at how deceived I have been. I have allowed The Goal to fill my vision. To be what I live for. To be what I wake up for. To be what I chastise myself for.
The truth, however, is this: The Lord wants so much more for me than just to be physically healthy. He even wants more for me than for me to be godly while on earth. He wants ME. He wants a vital, constant, non-stop, loving relationship with me. He wants to be my Goal. He wants to be my Pursuit. He wants to be my Everything.
The Goals, as long as they are allowed to remain, will remain as obstacles to what God wants for me. This amazing God wants to take even my frustration about this journey toward physical, mental, spiritual wholeness and transform it into a dynamic closeness with Him that surpasses anything I could ever dream or imagine. He doesn’t just want this for eternity. He wants it NOW. As long as I make anything The Goal, I am pandering after an idol, worshiping the Baal. Derailing that which my King, my God, wants.
No more. I refuse to cow to The Goal any longer. The challenge now? Defining the difference between “surrender” (which is something God calls me to do) and “giving up.” “Giving up” makes it look like I have stopped pursuing a Goal I have been called by God to pursue. But in this case, I haven’t been called to pursue it. “Surrendering,” on the other hand, means that I don’t expect God to behave according to my expectations and I will love and trust Him anyhow. I let go of my insistence that I can and will control things by what I do. As Larry Crabb says, “The pressure is off!”
It is time for me to let God be God. Personally, I like Him better when I let Him be who he is and stop pursuing everything else long enough to bask in the pleasure of His company. I want Him. As Paul said, “Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Philippians 3:7-9a)