Lent Day 4: Unearthing Idols

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
~ Psalm 32:1-5

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.  ~ Romans 1:25

Have you ever sat in a space that’s a regular part of your life – maybe your bedroom, a study-spot on campus or your favorite place to eat – and started to notice aspects of those spaces you’ve never noticed before? Those spaces that you typically rush through and/or become so normal and everyday that, having slowed down a bit, you begin to gain new perspective on them? Maybe there’s a crack in the ceiling that you’ve never noticed before. Or, perhaps, as you slow your walk to class, for the first time those beautiful flowers along the sidewalk captivate you. Or, still yet, maybe once you’ve paid attention to that coffee you’re drinking from the Ratty, you realize that, yes, it really is kinda gross.

The Lenten season is largely about slowing down and taking stock of the spaces in our lives – noticing what’s going on in our hearts, minds and souls.  In the flurry of everyday life, the real condition of these spaces largely go unnoticed. We’re so used to plowing through the day, so used to living in our interior space, that, much like the exterior spaces of our lives, we miss the cracks, flowers and bad tastes. So, we need Lent, this  season that invites us to sit with ourselves and inspect the true condition of our interior lives.

Why do we need to do this interior inspection? Why bother rummaging through the hidden places of our hearts, the subconscious thoughts of our minds and darkest corners of our souls? Because when we do, and we unearth the “junk” that doesn’t belong there, we’re able to bring it to the Lord, to confess our sins, and find forgiveness, healing and renewal. As the psalmist says, “‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Ps. 32:5)

As we rummage, we’re bound to uncover idols. “You mean like little statues or something?” you ask. Well, no, not exactly. It’s true, when we read about idolatry, say, in the Old Testament, there’s usually a statue or figure made of wood or metal involved. However, the idolatry is found in what those statues/figures represent – worship of a people’s hopes, fears and dreams. Though we typically don’t go around bowing down to metal statues in the modern, western world, we still suffer from idolatry. As Keller helpfully puts it,

What is an idol? 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…An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’…If anything in life becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol. (Counterfeit Gods, xvii-xix)

So, as you slow your life down in this Lenten season, as you take a look around at the interior of your life and begin to notice some of the junk hidden away just below the surface, the Lord invites you to confess those transgressions birthed out of your heart’s idols, to repent, or turn away, from those sins and toward him, and to receive his unmeasured grace, forgiveness, healing and fullness of life. May the Lord be with us as we continue to journey through the wilderness to the cross this Lenten season.

*Posted by Justin Doyle

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