Guilt was driving me insane! It woke me up at night, pestered me all day, griped at me when I was trying to do my Bible study, talked to me during church…I couldn’t even watch Christian standup comedians without being convicted!
And for what? A stupid TV show I’d fallen in love with.
The TV show wasn’t exactly bad. It was better than a lot of television series out there nowadays. There wasn’t much swearing (just a couple words every episode…maybe), no sex scenes whatsoever (some suggestive content, but it didn’t show anything), and just a couple characters who weren’t exactly role models.
So what was the problem?! Why was guilt sitting on my stomach and poking me with its accusing, sharp little fingers?
Okay, so if I had to admit it, the show did undermine God. I could ignore that. I mean, I know there is a God. It’s not like some fictional TV show is going to convince me otherwise. Yeah, right. Ha! I’m stronger than that. So there.
Poke, poke, poke.
Okay, fine! I watch the show too much. I’m always thinking about it. Wondering what the next episode will be about. It’s just so much fun. What’s the big deal? I’ll watch it less. Will that make you go away? Are you happy now?
Stab, stab, stab!
Ouch! Stop. I want to sleep. Stop waking me up. Oh yeah, I forgot to pray before bed. I guess I was thinking about that one episode I watched where…Oh, I’m praying. Yes. Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Please bless my family…Dang! I meant to watch part two today of that one episode. The one where he…Wait, I’m supposed to be praying. Where was I? Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Please bless my family. Keep us safe as we go about our school, work and stuff tomorrow…That one episode was awesome….
All right, looking back, I think I know what the problem was. Idolatry. I was so caught up in a show that I was allowing it to get in the way of even my personal relationship with The Lord, and in case you didn’t know, that is NOT okay. God specifically says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” That may not seem applicable in my scenario, but wait till I tell you how it is totally applicable!
Even though I did not mean, even in the itsy-bitsiest way, to put this show up before God, I had. Here were my symptoms:
- If I got to choose in the morning which I’d do before going to work, Bible study or episode, I’d choose episode.
- If I was doing my Bible study, a lot of times my mind would drift off to the show.
- If I was hanging out with my family, I was usually telling them about the latest episode I’d watched.
- If I was praying, I was constantly interrupted with thoughts about…you guessed it…the show!
Yeah. Maybe I was a little addicted. But when something, anything, monopolizes your thoughts like that, except for God, you have a problem.
I had a problem. And God was dealing with it.
Guilt is a powerful thing. It is the conscience working in overload. It gives you a sick stomach, and hounds you constantly. Pricking, poking, prodding….
What did I do to deal with it? At first, I ignored it, until it got so loud I was afraid someone else would notice. Then, I tried to compromise. All right, God, I’ll watch the show less. I’ll go on a one-week fast! I won’t watch it for one week! Okay, good enough?
Of course not! God does not do compromises. He doesn’t say, “You shall have no other gods before me…but I’ll happily sit next to one!” No. He does not want anything between you and Him. It blurs the connection, and often times, we get so close to our idol, we can’t even see Him anymore.
I was getting closer and closer to my idol. I was seeing less and less of God, and I was noticing.
And I had a horrible feeling I knew exactly what God’s solution was going to be. In fact, He had done everything short of sending an angel to grab me by the arm and say, “PAY ATTENTION!”
Every sermon, every Bible study, every show seemed to be blaring the same thing: You have to remove idols!
I resisted. I loved the show too much. Please, God, I’ll do anything You want! Just don’t take away my show!
The hardest part of any hard decision is making it.
When the doctor says you need a shot to cure some deadly disease, and you are seriously afraid of needles, saying, “Wait! Let me stare at the needle for a bit…let me think about this” is NOT going to make it easier. It’s going to bring on the pressure even more than just taking a deep breath, closing your eyes and saying, “Okay! Just do it and get it over with!”
And then, one night, I just did it. I said, Okay, God. I will never watch the show again if it is going to come between us so much.
I hated that decision; however, I do not regret it…AT ALL. I was on the verge of tears when I admitted my decision to my mom, wanting some accountability. And guess what? It still stings. However, being closer to God and knowing nothing on the face of this planet or in the vastness of the universe is worth more than living an eternity with my Father in Heaven make it entirely worth it.
I know this was probably not the conclusion you wanted to hear to this story, but I do have some hope: No matter how good we think something here on earth is, God has it topped 100 to 1 in heaven. Or 1,000 to 1. I’m being too conservative here…think more like 1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000 to 1! It is unbelievably, unimaginably more awesome and stunning and amazing and fun and adoring and just…everything up there.
I’ve tried to think of what my perfect heaven would be, and I can’t decide. Luckily, God, who created my innermost being, knows exactly what will make my eternity worth every tiny little thing I gave up on earth.
I don’t know what your idol is, and I’ll have you know that the TV show that took up residence in my heart was not the first object I’d let wedge itself between me and God. I have dealt with idolatry before, and it is not pretty. In fact, I’ve had bigger things than a stupid show come between us. Like fear. Like anger. Like bitterness. Even the things we hate can become so prominent in our lives that we begin to let it blind us to God’s everlasting presence.
Just because we hold a darkness to our eyes does not make God disappear, but it does make us feel alone. Because, eventually, we’re going to get tired of letting in whatever has claimed a god position in our lives, and we’re going to wonder what happened. Why wasn’t God there? Why do I feel empty?
It’s because when we pour our energy into something that isn’t God, nothing on this world gives back. And actually, when we truly love God, He is pouring His love into us until we overflow and simply must give back or explode! God is amazing that way, because when I gave up watching that show I thought was so cool and so much fun, God started filling in the gap I created ever since. Now, even though I’m still sore if I think about it too much, it is starting to ebb. I’m losing sight of it now that I put it behind me and started looking forward. It’s only when I look back that it hurts.
There are going to be things in your life that are idols that are going to hurt a lot more than a stupid TV show, and I suspect that this won’t be the last time I let something come between me and God.
This testimony has not been easy to write, mostly because I know I must “practice what I preach,” and believe me, I know what I’m saying is heavy. But I really want to do things right, because we only live once. No “live for myself this life, and live for God next life.” No, it’s live for God ALL my life.
But I have a TON of good news. God knew we’d make mistakes. Have made mistakes, will make mistakes. And he made arrangements to make it where we can still live eternally with Him, even though we are constantly throwing sin between us and Him. He sent His one and only Son to die in our place so that all we have to do is repent and turn away from our sins and idols (which are really the same thing).
The first step is accepting it.
Written by PI Girl Mariah
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