Deuteronomy 16:21-22 – Lessons From An Approval Junkie

Posted: February 16, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 16:21-22

Worshiping Other Gods

Several months ago, I wrote a 28-page essay on my spiritual journey from birth to the cross at age 39 and beyond. When you have to sit down a write your life’s journey, it can be a revealing endeavor. When you are brutally honest about yourself and what all the events of your life really mean in the grander scheme of things, it can reveal things to you, about you, that you may not like. I may post that life’s journey here one day just so that I can share it with whomever stops by my website. Maybe, you can learn from it. But for today, let’s just suffice it to say that I had something else other than God my god. Growing up as a preacher’s kid, and a Methodist preacher’s kid at that, we were always moving. Every two to three years it was a new town and new people. I became a chameleon. I took on the colors of the world around me. Approval was the key to my soul. I wanted to be accepted above all. That was the main theme of my life for much of my life. Fitting in and being accepted. Always feeling like an outsider looking in. Always looking for that way to feel like I was a member of the club.

 

As I grew older into my teenage years and all throughout the first 45 years of my life (even the six years after salvation at age 39), I grew to see acceptance and approval as how the woman in my life felt about me. God, I look back at all those years with fear and trepidation now. But much of my life was equating access to sex with the woman in my life with my value as a person and as a way to validate who I was. As you can see, that is a recipe for failure. In order to maintain “bedroom approval” I would be a puppet on a string. I do not blame the women of my past for making me a puppet. People will take the power that you allow them to have over you just by subtle nature. I would forsake family, friends, good sense, I would forsake it all to maintain bedroom approval. It happened in both of my first two marriages and I let it happen. I was an approval junkie. I needed the woman in my life to pat me on the head and say “good boy!” The way that was evidenced to me was through the sharing of their feminine charms with me. By nature, they each realized the power that they had over me and would use it to achieve their goals in the relationship. I let ‘em do it too! Sure, I will stay in a constant state of war with someone in my family so as to isolate me away and make the approval needs that much greater (as it was with my first wife and mother of my children). Sure, I would do only what was legally necessary for my kids from the time their were 8 and 3 til they were 16 and 11 while I was married to my second wife. Sure, anything to do with my past before I met her I would discard and throw away. All of it was about bedroom approval. I would do anything to keep that. That is how I validated myself as having value. I was an approval junkie of the highest order. Approval of women was my god. It was the Asherah pole that I set up beside the altar of God.

 

That idea of making something other than God your god and how it was the approval of women that was my god is what I thought of immediately when I read these two short verses today. Let’s read Deuteronomy 16:21-22 together this morning:

 

21 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the Lord your God, 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates.

 

I would love to say that things changed immediately after I accepted Christ as my Savior at age 39, but things did begin to change slowly. Through my salvation, I found that my kids were actually important to me and that I was going to do more than what was legally required for them. That was a choice between bedroom approval and doing right by my kids. That pretty much ended the second marriage. That was a devastating blow to me because it withdrew access to bedroom approval. In the years after that, my kids came first but I was still dealing with approval needs and still trying to validate myself through sex. I was younger, slimmer, and better looking in those days. It was still my nature to find approval through the relations that I had with women. When you make a thing other than God your idol, you will make stupid mistakes and people will fail you. When you make a person and what they can offer you, your god, you will be led down a path of self-destruction. It was not until God brought Elena into my life that things finally began to change.

 

She was unimpressed with my Casanova style. She was going through recovery from divorce herself so some hot shot, smooth talkin’ fella was unimpressive to her. She was a challenge and at first I gave up on trying to have a relationship with her. But she lived right downstairs from me and we became friends, first. We had long conversations on her porch at her apartment. We were honest with each other about our mistakes of our past. We were honest with each and let each other see the other’s skeletons and our fears about relationships going forward. In the midst of that friendship, I fell in love with her. God then removed me and sent me to California. The amazing thing that happened though was that our relationship survived that for a year and half before she moved out to California to be with me. With sex off the table, we became even deeper friends. We learned to love each other without sex being a part of the picture. I learned that a woman could love you for just being who you are and that I did not have be a puppet on a string. It has been through this relationship with Elena that God, I know, planted in my life that I have learned about agape love, the love that God has for us. Through my relationship with the woman who is now my wife, I have seen that love can really be unconditional and not predicated by rules or expectations. You just love. That is the way God is with us because He doesn’t want to see us destroyed by the Asherah poles that we set up beside what should be God’s sole place in our heart.

 

What is your Asherah pole that you have made equal to God? Is it your job? Is it your spouse? Is it money? Is it sex? Is it approval from others? What is your Asherah pole? What is your idol that you worship instead of or along with God? Take my word for it. Anything less than worshiping God alone is a recipe for disaster. Take a look at what you make as important to you as God and remove it! When we make idols in our lives, they will lead us to pain, heartache, and a destroyed life. Take it from one who has risen from the ashes through the action of the Holy Spirit in my soul as sent by Jesus Christ at the day of my salvation. Flee from your idols. Make God the only true God of your life. Everything will begin to slowly change as we dig ourselves out of the muck and mess that we have made out of our lives. Flee from your idols now!

 

Amen and Amen.

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