Today’s scriptures say two things to me. Do not worship
idols. And the God we worship is a God of love and compassion.
In Hosea, the Lord is very clear. No idols. Idol worship will
only bring trouble. The Psalmist echoes this sentiment. Do not
trust in idols, trust in the Lord. And in Matthew, Christ’s love for
us is evident. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with
pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without
It used to be that when I read about the Israelites worshiping the golden
calf, I almost laughed. What is wrong with these guys? God delivers
them from Egypt, does all these miraculous things for them and in a heart
beat, they turn away from God and start worshiping some metal object.
It seems ridiculous. Later, two things dawned on me. First, the
Israelites were just trying to fit in with their neighbors. Or keeping
up with Joneses. Or the Canaanites as it were. Secondly, I am
no different. There are lots of things that draw my worship away from
the one true God. Money. The desire for power or fame.
It’s easy to get caught up in the race for material things. Maybe my
neighbor has that new supercharged truck that can tow a house. I’ve
got to have the newer, improved model. Sometimes I simply seem to worship
myself. And the world is quite encouraging in this arena. A TV
commercial told me just this morning that if I have this specific product,
why I’ll be so attractive, I’ll turn every woman’s head. The world
places a huge emphasis on how we look on the outside. The things we
worship may be more subtle than a golden calf, but they’re no different.
They still pull us away from God. Sometimes I can recognize these times
and sometimes I can’t. I usually wind up with a sense of emptiness
and sadness. I call these valleys my dry times. My droughts.
But something always seems to steer me back to God.
Have you ever been in an area during a drought? Here in Nebraska, the
western part of the state is in a drought. The countryside is parched
and desolate. The ground is cracked and dusty. Vegetation is
brown and stressed. The livestock are weak. Lakes are at record
lows. Last summer our family vacation took us through this area.
On a long hike in Toadstool Park, we experienced the drought
first hand. The heat was oppressive. No vegetation in sight.
Every movement was an effort. Dust billowed with each step and clung
to our sweaty bodies. Even my teeth felt gritty. And then came
the cry, daddy, carry me. Not one of my better vacation moments.
When we finally made it back to camp, the water never tasted so good.
Cool, drenching water poured over hot, sweaty, upturned faces. Washed
clean, quenched, refreshed and revived.
This is one of the images I have when I take communion.
Idols have pulled me away from God. I’ve drifted into a dirty, hot,
dry and dusty place. And then comes the statement. This is the
blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. What brings us back
to God? A person, a Bible verse, a worship service? Communion?
We are blessed to worship a God who loves us and has compassion for us.
A God who pities us in our idol worship and revives us from our drought.