By Kari Verhoog

It took a trip to the other side of the world for God to expose the idols hidden in my own heart.

If you have the opportunity to visit Nepal and walk around Kathmandu, the capital, you will see countless temples and idols. There are idols on street corners, idols in shops, idols in cars; idols are everywhere. The Nepalese are predominantly Hindu and they worship millions of gods. Their idols are jarring to our western eyes. As my husband Matt and I walked around Durbar Square during our AIM trip to Nepal, one particular idol was prominent, virtually blocking our path. Its gruesome face leered at us as we watched people come perform tikka (worship) by lighting candles, and offering prayers to this "god". I remember thinking how sad and foolish it was that people were bound in fear to such worthless and impotent objects as this idol standing before me.

One week later I was floating in an airplane back over the Pacific Ocean in what felt like an unending night. I was physically and mentally exhausted. Little did I realize that my troubles were just beginning. In the weeks that followed, I struggled with fear and anxiety so acutely that I had to take a leave from my job and give up my other commitments. I lay in bed wrestling with overwhelming thoughts, "Where did all this fear come from? Why am I so angry and resentful?"

God began to reveal my heart to me as I finally slowed down enough to listen to his voice. I started meeting with a Biblical counselor who asked me questions which exposed where I was truly putting my trust, my hope, and my confidence. The truth was painful to acknowledge. I had turned from trusting the one true God to idols of my own making. Of course these idols were not fashioned out of metal like the ones in Nepal. These idols were fashioned by me in my own heart. No one could see them. Even I failed to recognize them without help. As I looked into my own heart and saw the idols I had embraced and justified, I was moved to true repentance.

All of us are born idol-worshippers just as much as Hindus in Nepal. These idols of the heart are the "root" of our sin problem. Howard Eyrich and Elyse Fitzpatrick observe that "None of us loves God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:38-40). We all have other loves or desires that take precedence over that one great desire." So what is the solution to our idol problem? The answer is Christ and His Gospel, which becomes all the more beautiful as we see our sinfulness more clearly. Christ can change both our motivation and our actions because He can change our hearts!

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23 emphasis mine)

I would also encourage you too to take time to examine your heart. What do you place your hope and trust in? Take time to ponder your own idols of the heart and repent. And then praise God for the answer He has provided for our idol problem!

August 7, 2019
Advancing Indigenous Missions 2019