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Motherhood. Neighboring. Grief. Sarcasm. Jesus.

Writing what I’ve learned along the way.

When God Challenges Your gods

When God Challenges Your gods

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I grew up ingesting and regurgitating a whole lot of Bible.

Just to be clear, I don’t say that like it’s a bad thing – what a gift. But after hearing some of the most popular stories over and over, there are times I think about heckling them out of my studies:

i.e. David and Goliath? You are SO Beginner’s Bible 1994.

Last week I was reminded once again that the “word of God is living and active” {Hebrews 4:12}. The Bible has not changed during my twenty-nine year life span, but when given the chance it changes me; corrects, trains, and teaches me new things - even through chapters I’ve seemingly worn out. 

This time it was the story of the Ten Plagues. Ring a million bells for you too?

The Egyptians enslave the Israelites for 400 years. God raises up Moses to confront Pharaoh and set the Israelites free. Pharaoh refuses ten times. Each refusal results in God sending an agricultural blight, painful disease, or supernatural disaster as punishment {Exodus 7-12}.

But I recently learned that these were not just ten random plagues.

The Nile River turning to blood, the millions of frogs, the infestation of gnats and flies, the dead cattle, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and wiping out of Egypt’s firstborn – each of these plagues was a direct challenge against the gods of Egypt.* 

The Nile River turning to blood? Hapi, god of the Nile.

Boils covering people’s skin? Isis, goddess of healing.

Days of complete darkness? The most revered of all: Ra, god of the sun.

Each of these gods, and many others, were worshipped for their supposed power and protection over Egyptian empire, power that proved useless against the chaos of these plagues’ destruction. Not to mention that the storm didn’t end just because the sun finally came out. There were livestock to breed, piles of dead frogs to rid of, hail-damaged crops to replant, firstborn to grieve. An entire kingdom suffered greatly for both the centuries of brutal oppression they were guilty of and Pharaoh’s hardhearted snubbing of God’s warnings.

Mind blown. Heart captured.

Though we don’t always understand why we are plagued by life-rocking hardships and everyday annoyances, one of the side effects of walking through dark valleys is that God directly challenges the other gods in our hearts.

Looking back, I know this has been true in my own life:

Facing rejection? The god of seeking man’s praise.

Being robbed? The god of materialism.

My child rebelling? The god of wanting my kids to make me look good.

Absorbing unkind words? The god of seeking identity outside of being God’s child.

Losing our baby? The god of control.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want life’s challenges to end. I’d love to be able to pry open the doors I want to walk through as a writer; to bring my baby back to life. It has taken years of grief to even entertain this kind of retrospective thinking without the breath being choked out of my lungs.

But alongside my lament, I am grateful for this side effect of suffering, for the way God makes His name known in my life by destroying the gods who have proven powerless to protect me.

Even the Egyptian mystics who were able to duplicate a few of the plagues were not able to make any of the plagues go away. They could only add to their people’s suffering. How true is that? When have the gods of gluttony, greed, or lust protected me instead of adding destruction to my life?

We don’t only worship a God who is able to bring judgment on the oppressor, but one who is able to bring healing too.

We worship a God who – in His great mercy – continually challenges our idols so that we may know there is none like Him on all the earth {Exodus 9:14b}.

Grace and Peace,

Kendra

Thought to Ponder: How am I being challenged today, and which idols is God tearing down in the process?

*The Lamb of God: Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, by Nancy Guthrie

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