In this way, I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you brought from Egypt. You will never again cast longing eyes on those things or fondly remember your time in Egypt.
The words found in the book of Ezekiel have really been doing some damage for me these past several weeks. From the very beginning, the words have been some of the most convicting. God has been using the words to prune this heart in ways that I did not realize were necessary before the shears started digging in.
In my last post, I talked about idols because much of what has been whispered to my heart has centered around this concept. I do not feel as though I can adequately describe the meaning this verse held for me when I first read it without a bit of transparency.
For me, this idol that I’ve been wrestling with is not an uncommon one. It only takes one word to hit home for me.
(And no, I am not including the indefinite article in the word count.)
I would imagine that mingling talk of idols with relationships makes a lot of us a little uneasy. For one thing, as human beings, I would argue that we are designed to be relational beings. We aspire and long to communicate, to know others and to be known by others. I don’t know of many people who would be fine with a persistent state of seclusion. I am, by nature, an introspective, introverted person. Yet, I know that I would go absolutely crazy without my friends and family.
Relationships with friends and family can most certainly can become idols. If you treasure any of those relationships above your relationship with God, then the priorities need to be reassessed and changed.
These kinds of relationships, however, have not been the focus of my conviction.
As I was going through chapter 23, I kept thinking about relationships because God is using the metaphor of relationship to describe Israel’s sin. At verse 27, the phrase “cast longing eyes on those things or fondly remember” immediately brought those moments to my mind where I would remember how it feels to be in a relationship. I reminisce and find myself hoping for a relationship. I want to experience that again.
My concept of what relationships mean and how they should be handled is not the same today as it was a couple of weeks ago, let alone a few years ago. Simply because I’ve matured and learned a lot more, however, does not mean that relationships are suddenly not an idol.
Reading this verse produced a new perspective. The people of Israel were thinking fondly of their time in Egypt. Does that not seem strange? Whenever I read about Israel and Egypt, my first impression is never one of happiness. Their time in Israel may have started out on a well with Joseph, but it ended with enslavement for the descendants of Jacob. How could the people think fondly of those days?
It immediately made me think about how I miss being in a relationship, and I wonder if I am thinking fondly of my days of captivity. Forget the jokes about the ball-and-chain. That is not what I mean when I use “relationship” and “captivity” in the same sentence.
What I mean is that I very well could have been serving an idol called Relationship. Perhaps those were days when I allowed my relationships to be something that they were not, are not, and never will be. I thought up a saying the other day:
A relationship should never be what gives your life meaning, but it should most definitely enhance it.
If being in a relationship is the only thing that can give my life meaning, then I am most certainly a slave to whether or not I am in a relationship. I am a captive to whether that relationship goes well or poorly.
A relationship is by no means bad but neither is it by any means necessary. That’s a tough lesson to learn.