“For they themselves report what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9 CSB
Have you ever heard of Rosie Ruiz? She won the Boston Marathon in 1980. That is until it was discovered that she had left the race, hopped on the subway and beat her previous time by 20 minutes. She was stripped of her win as a result. Winning had become her idol. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France road bike race 7 times in a row, from 1999 to 2005. Then it was discovered he had accomplished this by using drugs to enhance his performance. Now if you google his record on Wikipedia, the wins are still listed but they have a line through them because he cheated. Tonya Harding hired someone to break her competition’s knee in 1994 so she couldn’t compete in that year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championship. All of these are examples of people who let their desire to win become their gods.
I am sure, when Rosie bought the subway token, she justified it in her mind. When Lance took the drugs, he felt it was the right decision. And when Tanya decided she needed a little help, she probably thought it was her only choice. Idolatry can trick us into believing lies. One moment in time becomes a turning point that will impact the rest of our lives. I’ve used this analogy often when talking to people, “Do you think the alcoholic would take the first drink if they knew it would ruin their lives?” No one would do that intentionally, but we don’t understand the depths idolatry can take us.
There is another turn we can take though, we can turn to God and away from our idols. We can trust Him to get us across the finish line, understanding He is all the help we need. When these athletes made the decision to turn away from God, it cost them everything. When we turn to God, we gain everything. Whether we come in first place or last, when we do it with God, we are always victors. Whatever place we are at in the race, it is exactly where He wants us. Our place in the race is right where He wants our lights to shine through to the world around us. He loves the first place winner as much as He loves the last place winner and everyone in between. But if we’re so focused on the prize it becomes our idol, we miss it. Let’s pray today that we turn to God and not away from Him with this prayer:
Lord, we’re so grateful for Your presence in our lives. Help us turn towards You today as we move through our days. Let no other gods come before You. Help us serve You, the true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9 CSB). In Jesus name we pray. Amen