Daily Reflection
July 6th, 2004
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
Registrar's Office
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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 a shepherd.

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.

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