How to Let Go of the Hidden Idols of Our Hearts
I have a very unhealthy relationship with food. I know…if you know me personally, you will be one of those people who say, “I don’t know why you’re always worried about your weight. You’re so little.”
What they don’t know is the pain of my childhood, growing up overweight and being teased because of it. Being overlooked, left out, unfriended, and unnoticed. And how easily I can gain because of my petite frame.
What they fail to realize is that it’s not always my current weight that is the issue; it’s the fear of gaining it back that keeps me bound.
As much as I love Jesus and know that I am made in His image, I still to this very minute struggle with my weight. I am constantly dieting, thinking about food, wanting to indulge, feeling guilty when I do, upset over every pound gained, and hating myself when I can’t control it.
It’s the hidden idol in my life. And as much as I hate typing these words through my tears that blur the screen, I am coming clean today.
Oh, trust me, this isn’t what I wanted to write today. I wanted to write a pretty post on love and Valentine’s Day, but the Lord won’t let me. I’m assuming that someone else out there is struggling with a hidden idol, something that has a hold of their minds, their time, and their attention, other than God, and they can’t seem to let it go.
Remember how Jacob worked seven years because of his love for Rachel? When Rachel’s father deceived him into marrying Leah, he worked another seven years for Laban (Genesis 29).
Eventually, Jacob tired of working for Laban and sought to take his family and return to his own relatives. God had been with Jacob and blessed him with much livestock, so he told Leah and Rachel that God was calling him back to his native land (Genesis 31).
“Then Rachel and Leah replied, ‘Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.'”Genesis 31:14-16, NIV 84
So Jacob gathered together his family and livestock and fled from Laban. Only, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. After three days, Laban caught up with them and confronted Jacob.
Jacob had no idea the gods were among his belongings, so he allowed Laban to search their tents, declaring death to anyone who had them.
“Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.Genesis 31:34
We don’t really know why Rachel took her father’s gods. Maybe she thought she deserved something from her father. Perhaps she thought they would bring her protection or comfort. Maybe she wanted to get back at her father for giving her sister to Jacob first.
Or perhaps (in my opinion) they were fertility gods that she thought would help her have a child.
“When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister, So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!'”Genesis 30:1
Rachel was filled with jealousy and obsessed with having a child to the point of desperation.
When we become obsessed about anything other than God, we have opened ourselves up to the seduction of idols we think will bring us comfort or peace.
In any case, Rachel clung to the the objects of her past, even as she was being led into the Promised Land with Jacob.
What can we learn from Rachel’s hidden idols?
First, they caused her to lie. She kept their presence from her husband and hid them from her father. Idols will do that. Our shame and embarrassment will cause us to hide our longings from those we love.
Second, they were powerless. These idols that had gripped her heart were in reality so small, she could sit on them! She risked her life to hide something that had no power to save her.
We too will hold tightly to something we think will bring us satisfaction, when in fact it is powerless to give us the peace, satisfaction, or fulfillment we think we are missing.
Third, they separated her from God. After Jacob finally wrestled with God face to face, he led his family to Bethel to worship.
“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.'”Genesis 35:2-3
We can’t worship God with all our hearts, if we’re holding onto our hidden idols. We have to let go of those things that draw our hearts away from complete trust in Him.
I can’t obsess about food and body image and appearances and still be fully devoted to God.
Because when I do, I am saying that God is not enough. I am placing my insecurities in my own hands instead of His. I am emphasizing my ability to control my circumstances instead of trusting in His ability to care for me.
This is hard, y’all. Because I have controlled my appetite and eating habits for over thirty years. And I have done it out of fear. I always told myself it was because I wanted to be healthy, and I do. I want to be able to serve God as long as I can and be a good steward of this temple He came to dwell in.
But the older I get, the harder my weight is to control, and suddenly I find myself considering diet pills and extreme measures to keep the weight off. That’s when I know it’s a problem.
Like Rachel, I’ve become desperate to maintain control of my destiny. She wanted a son, but even when she got one, she wasn’t satisfied.
“She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, ‘God has taken away my disgrace.’ She named him Joseph, and said, ‘May the LORD add to me another son.'”Genesis 30:23-24
That’s what our false gods do–they make us crave more of what doesn’t have the power to satisfy us in the first place. They blind us to the truth of what we do have. They keep us serving them out of fear.
And when we do achieve what we are desperate for, we begin to enjoy the feeling of control and power over our circumstances. And that’s a dangerous place to be.
Ironically, the one thing Rachel was so desperate for is what killed her. She died giving birth to her second son (35:18).
Jacob may have gotten the idols out of his household, but Rachel never let go of the hidden idol in her heart.
To be completely honest, I haven’t either. I still want to delete this whole post. But I know that I can’t hold onto my obsession to be thin and still worship God with all my heart.
So, today, I’m laying down my idol. I don’t have to be controlled by my fears and insecurities, and neither do you. After all, God has a work for us to do building His kingdom on earth.
We need undivided hearts, set free to fear only Him, seeking and serving Him without the distraction of a little god with no power.
“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.”Psalm 86:11
What holds your heart in its grip? What keeps you bound in fear or desperate for control? What do you think about, talk about, and worry about most of all?
Don’t bow to the image you have created in your mind. Ask God to release you from anything you are desperate for besides Him.
Oh, and I guess this is a Valentine’s Day post after all. God wants all our love. And He deserves it.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”Mark 12:30
Want more encouragement from women of the Bible? Get my book, Just Like Us: Wisdom from the Women of the Bible.
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