It was a normal June day full of sunshine. I had taken my then two-year-old daughter to the pool one afternoon to play. As she played in the water I noticed her paddling with her face in the water like we had just practiced in her swim lessons. “She’s doing great,” I thought to myself. A few seconds went by and I realized she wasn’t bringing her head out of the water.
I went to her and picked her up out of the water and her eyes had rolled back in her head. Her little body was limp. I started beating her back. The lifeguard came to me. After a few seconds water came out of her mouth and she starting coughing. She was okay.
How did I miss her being in distress? I was 12 inches away from her in the water.
How did the lifeguard miss it when there were two kids in the entire pool? Why? How? I remember tucking her into bed that night and thinking, “How will I ever get over this visual in my head?”
For one year, every day and many nights, I would wake up panicked over that event. My children’s safety became a deep fear for me that I couldn’t even fully articulate to my husband. I suffered deeply over guilt of the accident and fear of what could happen next. The closer we got to spring the next year, the more anxious I became.
One Sunday I was home from church with our newborn and my husband gave me a summary of the Sunday sermon. He told me that our Pastor spoke about giving the Lord the praise for everything in your life. Many times we suffer in the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have happened’ instead of seeing the provision and protection of the Lord. At that very moment I felt this wave of conviction come over me.
I knew at that point I had made my children’s safety an idol. I was steeped deep in a sin that was all consuming and it had shackled me down for over a year. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21) filled my heart.
Safety and healthy fear is not necessarily a bad thing. I teach my children to fear running into the street because a car could hurt them. We lock our doors to our home as a proper level of safety for our family. But what began to happen in my life, based on my painful experience, was that no one could protect or care for my children but me.
I became so convinced of this that I even didn’t trust my husband. One day I started crying when he was going to take them on a bike ride. I gave him a list of five or six things he had to do to make sure nothing happened to them. In a gentle way he said to me, “Don’t you know I would lay down my life for them? You have to stop this.” But I didn’t stop and it got worse. I cut the Lord out of this area of my life and it felt very dark. Tim Keller summarizes an idol best in his book, Counterfeit Gods:
“It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.” (Taken from Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods)
I didn’t see my own self-dependence growing until my husband shared the sermon details with me that day and the Holy Spirit penetrated my heart. I immediately confessed my sin before the Lord and asked Him to give me a spirit of gratitude for protecting my daughter. All I thought about the previous year was, “Why did that have to happen” instead of, “Thank you, Jesus, for protecting her.”
My heart immediately changed and for the first time in a year I didn’t wake up thinking about it. I had renewed confidence in my husband and others entrusted to care for her. I gave that area over to the Lord and He freed me.
My heart’s cry began like Psalm 51:1-4 but in God’s great compassion and mercy, my heart began to sing a new song of praise just like from Psalm 40:1-5.
Do you have an idol in your life? God can free you from it and give you victory. He restores all things!Leave a Comment