If I were to rate last week’s family vacation in western North Carolina on a scale from 1-10, I’d have to give it a “4”. Like those of you who were still here in Houston County, we were in the middle of what felt like a tropical depression. Rain, rain, and more rain. Flood warnings were issued where we were and several roads in the area were flooded.
What added to our collective misery was that our preferred mode of family vacations involves camping. What we do is often labeled as “car camping” but it is camping nonetheless in that we don’t enjoy indoor plumbing (we use a clean bathhouse with hot showers) and cook meals outside on propane stoves, firepit, etc. The saying (that I came up with, by the way) was proven true “When it comes to camping, if the weather’s good there is nothing better, if the weather’s bad, there’s nothing worse.”
I’ll admit to my own shame that Thursday morning I hit my low point. It may have had something to do with the fact that water to the bathhouse inexplicably shut off just as I was starting to shower. My hopes for the dream vacation had been dashed. Our week in Brevard, NC bore little resemblance to the vacation I had been planning in my mind for some time. Nights by the campfire weren’t happening. Hikes and mountain biking were nonexistent. I was disappointed and sullen.
I don’t tell you this to evoke your pity but to illustrate the nature of our idols. My vacation had become my idol. I had to have the ultimate family camping trip. I didn’t get it. What was my reaction? Anger. Discouragement. Self-pity. That’s what happens when the idols of our hearts are blocked. I knew that. I had preached that. I still had to experience it to re-learn that truth again.
This is one reason God warns His people throughout the Scriptures of the dangers of idolatry. Idols disappoint and never satisfy, yet they always ask for more. I read these words from Jeremiah 10:6-8 this morning: There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! (ESV)
Idolatry is stupid. We give ourselves to that which can’t ultimately satisfy. Our God rules and reigns. His name is great and He is infinitely worthy of our worship and our affections. Relationships, career, respect, possessions, and yes, vacations, can morph from God’s good gifts to be enjoyed into ultimate things that make it to our “must have” list. In that way, idols are formed and the path of stupidity is taken.
Rained out vacations can remind you of such things.
Paul Bankson is the Senior Pastor of Houston Lake Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Warner Robins, GA. He and his wife, Connie, have three sons. A native of...