I’ve been reading through Isaiah, and realized that God has a lot to say about idols, and where Israel’s trust can be found. Most recently, the following passage has been sitting heavy on my heart:
9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
This passage, following directly after passages commenting on the futility of worshiping things made by human hands, is especially potent to me. It takes the idea that what we create to worship has no power, and goes a step further; just as the statues and totems of false gods cannot affect our lives, we cannot presume to control God, nor do we even have a platform from which to question His judgement.
I am especially guilty of this, consistently plotting and planning my next steps in life, and expecting God to quietly and quickly acquiesce. In my efforts to manipulate God, I’ve contrived for myself a god who exists not to glorify Jesus’ perfect name, but to grant wishes; my own personal genie. And inevitably, this god that I dreamed up is powerless in the world, and merely causes stress and anger as I am met with trials that are too great for me, not to mention the fictional character I conjured. Of course, I direct my disappointment and disbelief towards the True God, but in reality, my own actions and tendency to trust in things besides Him led to my unmet expectations.
Praise the True God for His righteous word! In it I am reminded who He is, and who I am through Him. Praise Him that He doesn’t need me! Can you imagine if the architect responsible for your DNA and the structure of the Milky Way were reliant on our feeble efforts? I struggle to wake up each day, much less uphold the physical laws that govern the movements of the universe! No, it is by God’s merciful design that I am powerless without Him; the ease with which I can stray into corruption means it is altogether good that I am dependent on Him.
I would even argue that if God did need us, it would dilute His love for us. His grace and mercy to us would be nothing more than His way of coercing us to meet His own needs. As a sovereign being with no needs, His choice to pour out mercy and grace can only be seen as the result of a great and abiding choice to love. The purest love is love that endures when there is nothing given in exchange.
My prayer this month is that we all grow to a deeper understanding of who God is, and who we are as a result of His work in the world. I pray that we would see what areas of our lives are devoted to idols, and repent of our misplaced trust. I pray that as we further our knowledge of how little we “should” mean to God, it will expand our gratitude towards Him for valuing us anyway. As that happens, I expect that it will become more and more natural to respond to trial with an attitude of trust and faith in God.