Peter and I have just completed yet another parenting study at our church. It's just one of those areas where we want to always be learning and growing. As we are stretched to learn more, I am realizing just how much there is to improve in my parenting skills.
We were talking in this parenting class about idols in the context of sibling conflict. In that moment of conflict, what is the child's heart worshiping? What is the most important thing? What is the thing they want more than obedience to God. THAT is the idol. We can tell where the heart is based on actions. Simply breaking up the fight does nothing to develop character in their hearts and lives. They are upset because something has taken that place in their hearts and lives...that place designed to be perfectly filled only by the God of this universe. But the welling up of anger is a sure sign that God is not on his throne in their hearts. Wow. As I listened to the teaching, I couldn't help but think of the areas in my life that anger me...a mess to clean, a child interrupting, a job left undone by another family member. The list goes on and on.
I am still pondering, several weeks later, the things I have placed on God's throne in my heart and life. That perspective is the one that I need to keep...always. If a mess is making me angry, am I worshiping the idol of laziness or comfort? What is so important that I would become angry? I am definitely not angry as a result of a heart that is worshiping God in that moment!
I have been making a mental list of those things and working to remove them and replace God to his rightful place in my heart. But, it's so hard, isn't it? I'm doing great and then all of the sudden a toddler screams in response to the teasing of an older sibling and on my way to correct the situation, I trip over shoes left out and then it happens. That idol begins to rise in my heart. And, unwilling to knock it off the throne, I speak angrily to a child.
It sure is easy to sit back and marvel in disgust at how the Isrealites worshiped idols. Isn't it? I mean, God had just set them free from the bondage of slavery and there they were worshiping idols.
But, isn't that very much what we do in our lives every day? God has set us free from the bondage of sin and we turn right around and worship idols. I know it's true in my life. *sigh*
It's a journey that I know will continue for many years (longer than 40 years...quite possibly forever) as God peels back layer upon layer in my life and removes idol after idol.
So, each time that I have a talk with a child about what his/her heart is worshiping, I also search my own heart.
As parents, what kinds of idol worship have we demonstrated for our kids? It's time to tear them down!