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