As I have mentioned before, I have been working my way through a summer bible study by Kelly Minter, called “No Other Gods.” This past week we were working through the section about having people gods. Essentially, we talked about how we let other people or relationships become our gods because we long for something so much, when we find someone who seems to be or to have what we want, we make them our gods.
For instance, someone single and lonely, deeply desiring love and intimacy… they might be tempted to latch onto the first person that comes into their life that shows the slightest interest in them. Because they are so hungry for that love and acceptance, they are willing to do anything for that person to get it. They sacrifice themselves on the alter of the other person, perhaps for a promised love and attachment never fulfilled.
Kelly took us to the story of Leah, Rachel, and Jacob. I have read that story so many times. I always felt so bad for them. There was something about that story that pulled at me, and I didn’t know what.
I think now I do.
Leah was substituted in when Jacob was supposed to be marrying Rachel. He loved Rachel. He wanted Rachel. He didn’t love Leah. Yet, here she was, his wife. She kept bearing him sons, and with each successive son, she thought maybe this one will bring me his love, or attachment, or honor. Nothing worked. He never loved her. She kept bearing him children, because God opened her womb when He saw she was unloved. If she had stopped right there, seen that God was blessing her with children because He loved her, her life could have been so dramatically different.
All she wanted was to feel loved by Jacob. When she didn’t get that, she kept trying everything to get something that even felt like love. She gave Jacob everything. She sold her son’s mandrakes to Rachel for a night with him. She was so desperate to let him know, that she ran out to meet him as he was coming in from the fields.
Still unloved, she settled for a night with him, that felt like love, even if it was just for one night, even if it was for just a little while. And then she woke up, knowing that she was still not the loved wife.
If she had only given up the idol of her husband’s love, and exchanged it for God’s love. She would have been able to live in joy and peace, even without anything else. The drivenness that marked her life would have been gone.
And then there is Rachel. She had what Leah wanted. A husband who loved her. And yet… she was unhappy as well. She was barren. She was unable to have children, and saw her sister having them. She was jealous of her sister’s children, just as her sister was jealous of her husband’s love. She told Jacob that she would die if he didn’t give her children. And then in desperation herself, she gave him her servant to be his wife so she could build a family through her.
Once Rachel finally got pregnant and had Joseph, wouldn’t you have thought she would be satisfied? But as they left her father’s camp, she took her father’s household gods. Little “g.” She had Jacob’s love, her own son, but still wasn’t happy, still was hungry for more. Not knowing what that hunger was, the last real look we have of her was sitting on these idols, on her camel, hiding what she had done.
If Rachel had just realized God’s love for her, the jealousy and discord that ran through that household could have been laid to rest. She might have yearned for a child, but if she had known that God was enough, whether she had a child or not, she might have been happier.
Kelly asked us if we saw little bits of ourselves, or even big chunks of ourselves in either of the sisters, or both.
Leah wanted the love of her husband.
Rachel wanted children.
Leah didn’t get what she wanted, and was miserable.
Rachel did get what she wanted, and was miserable.
I have been in both of their shoes, and was miserable too.
When I was single, all I wanted was someone to love me. Even after I became a Christian, I went through a string of boyfriends. I found them all like one another in one thing. No matter what I gave them, or how much, it wasn’t enough to get them to love me. In public, they seemed considerate and kind, in private they seemed pretty selfish. I gave everything I had to give to them, for the crumbs they would let drop, for the moments of being held that felt like love… and then I would “wake up,” and see it wasn’t really love after all… and nothing I did or gave was ever going to be enough to earn the love I wanted.
Once I was married, I thought that would be it. Finally I was loved. But then I still felt dissatisfied. I decided that what was wrong is that we had no kids. So, I became desperate to have a baby. Less that 2 years after we were married we had our son. I thought then I would be happy.
Another year and a half or so, another baby, this time a girl. I was thrilled. I thought this would make me happy.
Stuff, buying things on whims, spur of the moment. Buying to medicate my heart. Getting involved in things at church, or keeping myself busy with work, or other things. Keeping busy with the kids, and family life…
Yet I felt trapped and dissatisfied.
None of it worked. I didn’t feel loved, I didn’t feel like my husband was enough, or the kids, or anything else was enough.
And I despaired.
He woke me up. He showed me again and again and again how much He loves me. As He is filling me with His love, I am finding that I can be content with what I have. I still struggle, but all these things aren’t my god. Jesus is. God is my God. I need to let these other things go. I am working on it. Sometimes it is a daily struggle.
There are many things that I have to weed out of my life. I still have some people gods in there. Maybe because I am such a people person.
But God is starting to weed those out. And fill in behind with His Spirit. I think that is what has been going on this past year or so. His waking me up, and starting to clear the temple… to make room for more of Him and less of the other gods. It is a slow process, but this year He has really been working on me overtime.
This clearing out won’t be complete until I am with Him in Heaven, but I pray that the process will continue and that I will be a willing participant in cleaning my house with Him through my whole life.