Have you ever said those words? “I just gotta have it!” Recently I started my 21 day fast we do each year at the beginning of the New Year. This year is a bit different in that I am doing the fast corporately with about 150 other women. I can’t tell you how many times over the last week I have heard those words, “I gotta have it! I just have to have my_____________!” Although each time the blank is filled in with something different, the principal stayed the same. They felt like they needed their specific food or drink to survive. And when those things were stripped away, their world seemed to stop spinning.
I will admit I could completely relate with each of them. You don’t realize how much you depend on certain things until they aren’t there any longer. Trust me; this mom of two young children that gets no sleep depends completely on her caffeine to survive the day. So when this got stripped away from me during the fast, I felt like I couldn’t make it through my daily tasks. I kept thinking, if only I could have my caffeine I would feel better…my attitude would be better. One of my sweet friends called to tell me about a hard week she had and she kept saying, “I can’t survive without my soda.” Others said, “I need my coffee…I need my sweets…I need my chocolate.” We all have that small something that we seem to find comfort in.
God really challenged me this week about my “gotta have it” mindset. As I was listening to everyone’s comments about those things they can’t live without, he reminded me of a passage from Isaiah 44. The passage talks about a man that took something tangible like a piece of wood and used it to make food and then used the other half to worship as a god. The passage says:
Then it can serve a double purpose: Part he uses as firewood for keeping warm and baking bread; from the other part he makes a god that he worships—carves it into a god shape and prays before it. With half he makes a fire to warm himself and barbecue his supper. He eats his fill and sits back satisfied with his stomach full and his feet warmed by the fire: “Ah, this is the life.” And he still has half left for a god, made to his personal design—a handy, convenient no-god to worship whenever so inclined. Whenever the need strikes him he prays to it, “Save me. You’re my god.”
18-19Pretty stupid, wouldn’t you say? Don’t they have eyes in their heads? Are their brains working at all? Doesn’t it occur to them to say, “Half of this tree I used for firewood: I baked bread, roasted meat, and enjoyed a good meal. And now I’ve used the rest to make an abominable no-god. Here I am praying to a stick of wood!”
20This lover of emptiness, of nothing, is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can’t even look at what he’s doing, can’t even look at the no-god stick of wood in his hand and say, “This is crazy.” Isaiah 44:13-20 MSG
This passage points out to us that we have a potential of taking tangible things on this earth and turning them into an idol. We use them for comfort, we use them as a source of hope, and we depend on them for strength. We basically take something powerless and cry out to it just as the man in the passage did, “Save me! You’re my God.” As for me….I’m guilty. I often turn to powerless things for comfort and strength before I turn to God. I keep running back to those things thinking “I gotta have it!” never once realizing those things have become an idol to me.
What about you? What is it that you just gotta have? Is it a food? Is it your phone? Is it your job? Your spouse? Your exercise? Your money? Your children? I don’t know what it may be for you, but I can assure you that we need to evaluate and reprioritize the things we think we just have to have. It’s not that it’s wrong to enjoy caffeine, or foods, or people or even things…it’s just that we can’t continue to allow any of those to become a god to us. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, ‘You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.’
That verse says it perfect. Just because something is technically legal, doesn’t mean it’s always beneficial, especially when it gets to the point that we just “gotta have it”. At that point, we are no longer in control, but rather a slave to that thing. I am so thankful that God uses things like a fast to point out to us those areas of our lives that are starting to take priority over him. The bottom line is Jesus is more than enough. He is our source of comfort, he is our source of strength, he is our only hope, and he is the only thing that saves.
How do you find out those things that may be idols in your life? Just deny yourself of them; you will realize in a hurry if you seem to be dependent on those things. I think it’s a good idea for all of us to occasionally deny ourselves of those things we feel we “gotta have”. It helps to bring balance back and will help prevent us coming to the end of our life, look towards our right hand and see that the thing we gripped so tightly was just a lie. Do enjoy the things you love, but enjoy God more…he is all we really “gotta have”.
More information on fasting visit www.trueidentityministries.com.