Remember that one time when I said on Instagram we’d share a blog post last Friday, and now it’s a week later and I’m just getting to it? Me neither.
But let me tell you, the delay in getting this out there is not from lack of passion or excitement. (It’s more from a sick, teething toddler and just life.) Jake and I are straight up humbled and thrilled about the path God has Burn The Ship on. With both of us full-time involved in other endeavors (Jake in farming, me in mom-ing), sometimes we feel frustrated at the slower pace we have to progress at. Then someone will message, comment, or email us about how this little movement has impacted their life, and we are reminded God has got this, and that things will continue to happen in His timing.
With all that said, Jake and I are wanting to make more resources available to everyone who is a part of this movement. We have been reading books and listening to podcasts related to burning ships, both for personal gain, and to filter through which are helpful in achieving real change. One that we are reading now is gods at war by Kyle Idleman. (The lack of caps is intentional.) In the intro to the book, Kyle asks, “What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry?”
Wow. That definitely caught my attention. Kyle pulls from the thoughts of Martin Luther (the famous reformer and theologian from the 16th century) that any sin or breaking of the Ten Commandments happens only after we break the first commandment: “you shall have no other gods before me.” And honestly, this idea was a bit revolutionary for me. I would dare to say that many people, myself included, might consider the first commandment as one they don’t struggle with as much as others. Because in many cultures today, we no longer worship literal idols- figurines or images that are shaped by human hands, put on display, and bowed down to.
But what else are we bowing down to? What are we choosing over God? I think oftentimes the reason we miss the heavy fact that we are idolaters is because our idols may not be inherently bad. Most of the things (or people) we worship are gifts God has given us that we have twisted and put before the God who created them. Family is an invaluable blessing. Money is necessary, and can be used well. Sex was designed by God to bring us pleasure, within a certain context. Food was created to sustain us and to be enjoyable. Our career, community, acts of service- all admirable things to put our time and effort in to. But when any of these replace God on the throne of our lives, they become an idol that ultimately separates us from Him. As Kyle writes, “all too easily God’s gifts to us end up being his greatest competition.”
So where do we go from here? Knowing that the heart of our struggles lies in the false gods we are worshipping, what is the path back towards healing, purpose, and healthy identity? One of the first and most important things we need to do is identify the idols at the root of our ships. In gods at war, Idleman provides some thought-provoking questions to help us get there:
· What disappoints you?
· What do you complain about most?
· Where do you make financial sacrifices?
· What worries you? (Or in other words, what wakes you or keeps you up?)
· Where do you go when you’re hurting?
· What infuriates you?
· What are your dreams?
And I will add a few from Lauren Chandler’s Steadfast Love devotional that I’m reading now:
· What occupies your mind the most?
· What do you love?
· What can absolutely ruin or make your day?
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, or the only correct way to identify the idols in our lives, but these questions are meant to prompt self-reflection. And if there’s anything Jake and I have learned throughout starting this movement and burning our own ships, is that it takes a whole heap of humility. Pride is one of the biggest ships of all, with its root in the idol of me. And when we put pride or our own image first, it makes it pretty difficult to recognize the ships in our lives that need to be burned, and what may lie at the root of them.
So my challenge for us this weekend is to think and reflect. Ask yourself, what am I putting before God, and am I worshipping any of his gifts more than the Giver? Use the questions above to get you started. I pray that God would reveal to you the idols you have allowed to capture your heart, even the ones that are good, but are battling for the ultimate seat in your life. Then in our next blog post I will share some of my idols, and how we can work on changing our hearts and recapturing them for the only One who is worthy.