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You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me

Sunday January 18th

In God I trust...

...mostly not so much!

I WANT to! I really do!

But I am really terrible at it. Mostly I want to put my trust in stuff I can SEE... like money in the bank... or a steady job...

And I can’t see God!

We started a Bible study at church a couple of weeks ago.

When it was announced it was going to be on the Ten Commandments, I thought, “Ugh. How BORING. I know the Ten Commandments already. What else is there to learn?!”

But then it was like those bits in movies you see all the time, where someone says something like, “I will NEVER go to Outer Mongolia!” and the next scene...

...they are eating peanuts on a plane to Outer Mongolia.

“The Ten Commandments? What I can I possibly learn?”

Turns out - A LOT!

And we've only gotten to the First Commandment.

Of course, I had always thought of the First Commandment as being about worshipping idols. And since I don’t have any statues of black cats lying around the house, I wasn’t too worried about that. And all that stuff about making money or power an idol, I never quite got. I mean, it's not like I pile up a wad of cash and worship it (partly, of course, because we don't have a wad of cash).

But I am learning it’s more than that.

When God said, “I AM the Lord your God” He was telling us an amazing, wonderful thing.

God was saying, “I am the One who will take care of you! I am the One I want you to put your trust in. Don't look anywhere else!”

God had just led the Israelites into the desert, and it wasn’t long before they were whining about going back to Egypt. "Hey, Moses, do you have any idea how far the nearest pizza place is from here?!!!?!" (or something like that). They were grumbling because even though they were slaves in Egypt, at least they knew where their next meal was coming from.

In the desert there was NOTHING...

...but God.

There was no food. There was no water. They couldn’t see where their next meal was going to come from.

But still, every morning God sent them manna. Every day God was faithful.

And it's interesting, isn't it, how manna wouldn't keep. They couldn't store it up, like money in the bank, a little treasure they could SEE and put their trust in; you know, like just in case one day God forgot. They had to trust in God... each and every day.

And eventually they learned that God IS there, and God CAN be trusted.

It only took 40 years!

Yikes! That’s SO me.

I have a REAL hard time just trusting that God will provide, in unknown and unseen ways - and just when it is needed... especially these days, when the whole world economy seems so shaky.

Just like the Israelites, I want to see where the stuff I need is going to come from! And just as foolishly as the Israelites, I'd rather be a slave to stuff I can see than trust in God I can't see.

Maybe I do make an idol of things like money.

That got me to thinking, What is an idol anyway?

And I imagined that back in ancient days, life was FULL of uncertainties... will the rains come? Will the wheat grow? Will we be eaten by monsters? Will the sun come up today?!! They really couldn't know anything for sure. Almost everything they needed to survive was out of their hands! And that's scary.

So I am thinking, they invented idols to give themselves at least some illusion of control (not that they thought of it that way). They could make offerings and sacrifices to these "gods" they made, and have some sense they had a hand in things.

It gave them the illusion of self-sufficiency, this false sense that they could control things.

So they made statues of cows and cats and men with jackal heads and all of that. And - here is the key - they put their trust in them.

But God, the real God, is a bit more elusive.

He can’t be seen. He can’t be controlled.

And He says, “Put your trust in ME - and not in anything else.”

And it’s scary.

But God is there. God is faithful... and I am learning not to put my trust in money, or a job, or my own ablities - but totally and completely in God.

Well, I am working on it!

What do you think?

2009 Paul Dallgas-Frey

write me at paul@essex1.com

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