Monday, April 22, 2013

Snarling Dogs

Come, let us return to the Lord.

He has torn us to pieces,

But he will heal us; He has injured us

But he will bind up our wounds.

Hosea 5: 1

We, a precious community of incredibly diverse women, are in the thickness of a study by Dee Brestin called Idol Lies. I found this book through Ann Voskamp.  I haven’t read any of Dee's work since she and Kathy Troccoli wrote their series together several years ago. The description of the study caught my attention. I was inwardly hoping that it surely didn’t apply to me. But I bought the book. And God has used it. My heart has been pierced—lanced.

Idols turn on us. It’s as if we have been carrying around these stone statues and their faces suddenly break into horrific animation.

At first they beckon us and promise us comfort, security and approval. They offer to supply what we crave. These idols are well disguised. We believe them to be just ordinary longings. Commonplace needs that have little to no affect. And they do supply what they advertise.


For a brief period of time the food fills, the alcohol and drugs free, the social networks connect, the relationship quenches, the control offers order, the approval gives us confidence. On the surface all seems to be good.

Eventually the idols turn on us. Like a once friendly house dog, it snarls and briefly bares its fangs. At first we can soothe it with kind words. And the idol will go tame. We breathe easier because it seems under control again. But quite often the dog begins to dominate the house, and we begin to tiptoe around it. We are cautious and catch ourselves cowering when it dips its head and lowly growls.

Who then is the master?

We find ourselves chained to the wrist of a comfort we no longer recognize. This once easily controlled idol now demands more. And more. Never satisfied. Never content. What once tasted good, now lays bitter on our tongues. We wince at the acidity of what once seemed sweet.

No one tells us that our idols will turn on us.

No one explains that there could come a time when we will struggle to say no.

I know women. I am one. We look in the mirror and often detest what we see. Or we think others do. This colors our perceptions of our worlds. And the idols offer a little more. And we believe the lies: if only I had a little more control, if I did this more efficiently, if I lost weight, if I were more attractive, if I could be more intelligent, if I could go back and change that one decision. And the lies unfold by the accordion pleats. One right after another.

Seems like I have believed them all. I have soothed the snarling dog often.

But Hosea's words have caught me. Just as he once beckoned Israel, Hosea's words now beckon me. He pleads for me (us) to return to the Lord. Hosea says yes, the Lord has torn us to pieces. He has injured us. But…

In the past weeks through our Bible study we have felt like we have been torn to pieces.  That’s how we have felt as we have faced these ugly dogs that have taken up residence in our homes. We have been made aware that these once seemingly docile animals are now unpredictable.

And we have been bitten. Some of us more than once. Some of us are in serious condition.

These snarling dog idols leave us in our wounded positions unattended; they leave us bleeding and in pain. Their once full promises are now nothing more than empty words, backed by nothing more than vaporous lies.

But God…

What God has torn away he will heal. The wounds he will bind. He does not leave us unattended. He does not forsake us. His promises will be fulfilled.

As we face these ugly, snarling dogs we need to understand God is not afraid of them. He is not intimidated or halted by their territorial presence or barking bravado. He will come in and be our Bridegroom protecting and defending his bride. He will step between us and the dog if we ask him. He will open the door and toss the dogs outside, if we ask. Often we don’t ask.

Let’s ask. Please let’s ask.

There have been moments in recent days when futility has threatened to overtake me. I have despaired of this barrage of sudden awareness (or perhaps acknowledgement) of the idol lies present in my life. Wearied, I have considered just throwing up my hands and saying I just can’t do this. There’s too many.

But the Lord has whispered. He has spoken.

Tamera, I will restore you, and you will live in my presence. And you will be satisfied. Open the door.

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