Hopefully, times of doubt and struggle draw us closer to the Lord, but what happens when our struggles cause us to try to supplant God’s authority instead?
In the book of Exodus, after Moses disappeared to commune with God on the mountaintop, the Israelites decided to create a golden calf to worship. Then the people declared, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” (Exodus 32:5 NLT). It seems the calf wasn’t necessarily a different god in their minds… it was God, only managed. For the Israelites—who had been led out of slavery and into the desert by the merits of God’s own power—God was too massive, too uncontrollable, too unpredictable. So they tried to make Him safe.
In 1 Samuel 8, the Israelites asked Samuel to appoint for them a king. Granted, they had poor leadership from Samuel’s own sons, but here’s the thing: They weren’t asking God to take back control; instead, they desired greater human authority. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles” (v.19–20). Ouch, ouch, ouch. Fight our battles? Hadn’t the Lord proven a time or two that this was His job and He was really good at it?
In these examples, things were admittedly difficult for the Israelites, and their fatal error every time was to abandon God’s authority for something else. Indeed, in this life we will be both in positions of authority and also under authority, but human authority will always have human limitations, and often we will fall short. Like a golden calf or even a king, earthly authorities will always be an inadequate substitute for the authority of God.
Can you relate to the Israelites? Is there anything in your life that resembles a golden calf or a hastily appointed king? Spend some time with the Lord and allow Him to reveal those things to you. Invite Him to reclaim that authority in your life.