I was reading through Jonah today, and this verse stopped me in my proverbial tracks.
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).
“Wow,” I thought, “that is really sad.” I know firsthand how priceless grace is, and the thought of anyone forfeiting grace – willingly giving grace up – is quite disheartening.
Grace can be anybody’s. Each and every person on this planet has the choice to either cling to their idols or to cling to the grace Christ bought them on the cross. And many wind up choosing to cling to their worthless idols because they feel safe – safer than an intangible God.
I know. I’ve been there.
I’ve never been too concerned about money or popularity. I’ve never struggled with an addiction. I’ve never practiced another formal religion.
But I’ve clung to worthless idols like my life depended on them.
My idols of choice typically take the form of other people. I like relationships. I like people I can see and hear and touch. They are easier to pursue than God is, and, in a lot of ways, they seem less risky than a God who is more interested in His Kingdom plans than my comfort. (Note: I did NOT say God is uninterested in my comfort. He very much is concerned about my feelings. But that is not His primary concern, no matter how much I think it should be).
In fact, I like relationships so much that God had to remove all of them from my life in order to get me to surrender to Him.
It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. My boyfriend of 2 years and I had recently broken up. I resigned from our group of mutual friends, uninterested in hanging out with my ex. School had just let out. And I found myself alone.
But not completely.
I had one friend left. He was my high school soccer coach at the time, but our team was not practicing over the summer. Lucky for me, I lived right next to the field, and he ran camps all summer long. He invited me to come out and play with those kids anytime I wanted. So I did.
The kids changed often, so I didn’t build relationships with them. But the coach, who had been my coach for 2 years by that point, remained the same. As the summer went on, that coach was the only person I interacted with. I looked to him for encouragement, affirmation, and direction.
Although God was calling me, I forfeited grace day in and day out.
Until one hot day in July.
I went to practice. That coach told me he was moving out of state. A week later, he was gone. And I was totally alone.
It was as if God said, “If you’re not going to give up your idol willingly, I’m going to take it from you.” I couldn’t cling to anyone anymore.
I told the Lord that day in no uncertain terms, “If You want me to make it through this, YOU are going to have to do it! I can’t do it…”
From that day forward, I could only cling to Grace. And Grace hasn’t disappointed.
Grace can be yours, too. It is there for the taking. But it comes with a condition. Forfeit your idols. Cling to Christ, and live in His grace.
God is brutal when it comes to our idols. God’s love is brutally committed to me. I have a hard time being as brutal with my own idols or as brutally loving with other’s idols. Sometimes being a softy is not very healthy.