of Asherah poles and Golden Arches
tonight at church, we talked about Psalm 121:1-2:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
My help comes from the LORD,
The speaker explained that, though we usually interpret the first line to mean, “wow, what beautiful mountains God made!”, in reality, there was more to it than that. At the time this psalm was written, the “hills” in question would have been carved up with idols to other gods, Asherah poles and the like. Thus, the “where does my help come from?”, then, is actually an affirmation that the God of Jacob is the ONLY God who deserves our trust.
We then met in small groups to talk about how the psalm resonated with us . . . I was near tears, thinking of the weight of my debt, some of it more recent, more of it from my snowballing student loans, but all of it my own fault (and yet something that I often plead with God to take away from me). But I think I was also struck by how greatly it must grieve God when I look to idols for the help that comes only from Him . . .
I have often “told” God exactly how (and when) I thought He should “deliver” me from my self-inflicted prison. My thought is always, “but if I could just get ‘back to zero'(no debt at all), I would be okay, and then I would for sure live differently.” This kind of thinking has left me struggling with buying lottery tickets long after God made it clear to me that doing so was outright disobedience . . . but tonight, what I shared, what I had suddenly realized, was that if I am not to chase after idols made of gold through playing the lottery, then I am equally culpable if I choose other methods of chasing after gold . . . MY help comes from the Lord .
. . and yet, there is the McDonald’s Monopoly game. In the past week, after not eating McDonald’s fries for about a year (ever since I saw the movie Super-Size Me), I have had large fries at least four times, all because you can’t win the weekly $50,000 prize unless you buy the large fries . . . mind you, I don’t even particularly enjoy french fries. but my mind works something like this: “Okay, Lord, if I win the five million, that’s two million for taxes, and I’ll tithe/give away two and a half million, and only keep $500,000.” Pay off my house, pay off my student loan debts, have a small ‘nest egg’ for savings, and then I would go and sin no more–at least that’s the theory, anyway. The reality is that I am asking God to be my genie, and that I am failing to trust His timing and His plans for me, failing to trust that He is still a good and mighty God even if I spend the rest of my life knee-deep in debt.
It is so very true that our hearts are “idol factories” . . . and when we try to look up to see God, the hills are almost always in the way. Faith is looking past those hills, those promises of wealth and earthly satisfaction, to the God whose ways are so far above our ways that He is beyond our seeing, and trusting this God we cannot see instead of the false, brightly glittering gods that assault our senses every step of the way.
I lift up my eyes to the hills, and I am blinded by the familiar yellow-and-red sign, the “golden arches”, until I fail to see my final destination, the streets where the gold we on this earth kill for is merely asphalt. Tonight, though, my heart aches with God’s heart, realizing how much it must grieve Him that I am so easily swayed by the “junk food” of this world, when the abundance of joy that He promised is mine for the asking . . .
Sunday, October 08, 2006