It’s Monday morning and I can hear my 7 am alarm. My son got up four times during the night, we got in late from church the night before and I’m exhausted, so I hit snooze. Five minutes later the alarm goes off again and the internal struggle begins. I could turn off the alarm. I’m a Stay-At-Home Mom, after all. I could sleep until my son wakes up which could secure me another hour and a half of sleep. Precious, precious sleep. Or I could get up now and have at least an hour to drink my coffee, spend some time in the Word, and start my day in the presence of God. Today, my spirit won, but that’s often not the case.
As a parent (especially of a small child) I have built-in excuse to not prioritize my devotional time. My son needs me in order to do almost anything, so it’s understandable that he takes up a lot of my time. I think God understands that children are time-consuming (he does have a lot of children himself), but He still expects us to make Him a priority. And not just a priority, but our top priority. Above our job, above our significant other, and, yes, above our children.
I think for many people the idea of idolatry is a bit foreign. I don’t worship any other gods. There are no statues in my home. I’m not a slave to any substance, habit, or circumstance. In fact, I go to church every Sunday and Wednesday and often many times in between. I prioritize God. But where is he on my priority list? Just because he’s on the list, doesn’t mean he’s first and whatever we have ahead of him, well, those are idols. We might not bow down to them or pray to them, but we put them before God. And many of these “idols” are good things that should be priorities and are important which is why it is so difficult to identify them as idols.
Some common idols for the average American Christian can be found by identifying where you spend your time. I understand that there are only so many hours in the day, but how do you spend them? Obviously if you’re spending more time watching TV or scrolling through Facebook, those are things that can be sacrificed to spend time with the one who saved you. But what about exercising? That’s not a bad thing, the Bible tells us to respect our bodies, but does gym time come before God time? Or maybe you need that extra hour of sleep in the morning. Sleep is essential to keep our bodies functioning at an optimum level, but are we idolizing our flesh over our God?
You can see why the issue of idolatry is tricky business, right? And let’s get back to our family. When my mother was recently visiting I decided not to go to prayer meeting to spend more time with her. I put her before my time in prayer – my time with God. I made her an idol. I love my husband so fiercely and would do anything for him, but I can’t put time with him before time with my Maker. My husband’s prayers and quiet time can’t build me my mansion in Heaven or help me access my blessings on Earth. He can’t put the Word in my heart. I have to do that. And then there’s my child, my son. Don’t let your children keep you from receiving your blessings from God. And it happens so easily.
We have been blessed to have evangelist Ted Shuttlesworth ministering at our church for over a week. He is a powerful man of God who has been anointed by God as a prophet and operates strongly in the healing anointing. We have seen awesome, miraculous healings in our services (something that is relatively new to me), but we’ve also been at church every day for over a week. My son is 11 months old and we haven’t been leaving church until after nine every night. If you have children, you know that this makes for an exhausted baby. So yesterday morning I put him down for a nap just before 10 am and thirty minutes later we needed to get him ready for church. We had to decide whether we would break our rule of waking a sleeping baby or one of us would stay behind and stream the service in our home. Praise God that this concept of not idolizing my child has been stirring in spirit. My husband didn’t want to wake him and offered to stay behind, but I insisted we all go to church, so we woke up our son and went to church. In that very service (the one my husband almost missed), this Prophet of God called my husband out from among the hundreds in the service and he received healing for a recurring pain in his back and legs. We almost missed that service and almost missed that blessing because we were going to put our son before our God.
Some of you may be thinking that I am taking this to the extreme. And you’re not wrong. I am being intense because I am passionate about serving my God, obeying his commandments, and putting Him first above all else. You might even be thinking that I am a bad mother, but I know that I am setting an example for my son that will be an eternal blessing in his life. So maybe his schedule gets a little bit off and he’s a bit fussier than usual, but his parents are growing in their faith and being built up in their spirit which far outweighs a bit of fussiness.
I can’t tell you what is best for your family. For your life. I don’t know where you are in your walk. But for me, I need to seek God above all else. I need to make sure I don’t allow my son, a blessing from God, to supersede my relationship with God. I love my son and I would give my life for him, but he can never be my Savior.