Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:2-4)
I was reading the story of the golden calf just a few days ago, and this hit me hard…
Here is Aaron. He is the guy who has been chosen to be high priest before the Lord, but now he is making an idol for the Israelites. Aaron is supposed to be the guy leading the Israelites in worship, and his brother Moses is conferencing with the Lord of the universe Whose manifest presence is covering the mountain like a cloud, but here he is at the foot of the mountain taking a collection of the people’s jewelry so the gold can be melted down and used to form a statue of a baby cow.
You know, so the people can worship… it.
Great. What kind of spiritual leader is this guy, anyway? In my mind, he is disqualified from the call that has been placed on his life already. Good going, Aaron… you’ve messed up big time, hot shot.
But how many times do you and I look around at present circumstances and say, “The Lord isn’t moving, so I need to move for myself? I need to get shaking if anything positive is going to happen around here. God says he’s there, He says He’s working out something good, plans for a hope and a future, yadda yadda. But I don’t see Him, and I haven’t heard from His messengers in a while, and it just doesn’t look like things are going to work out so I’m going to do something proactive to get things moving in the right direction. It’s high time I made myself a golden calf.”
I don’t know about you, but I do it far more than I want to admit.
My own golden calf sometimes looks like what you see here. I’m thinking about discouragement I have felt about writing for several years, that I can’t give more time to the practice, to the bitter feeling that things will always be like they are right at this moment. If I can barely get a post up on a simple blog once a week without straining myself thin, how will I ever write a book?
I know I want to write and I hope I can help other people with my words. And if I’m truthful, I hope to one day be a good enough writer that I can be paid for my work, because it feels like our financial situation is sucking wind and I want so desperately to be able to help fix it.
I have to face it. Sometimes I take writing, a gift from the Lord (jewelry given to me as I left my own personal Egypt), and I melt it down and turn it into a baby cow.
It’s easy enough to paint on a smile and say that I trust God for daily bread and I trust Him to give me what I need, and He will give me the time to work on my craft and be creative exactly when and how I should. But do I really mean it?
God gave the Israelites of the Exodus generation, these very same baby-cow-god making people, the original “daily bread”. Every morning, they woke up and found manna on the ground, and they were able to collect just enough to last them for one day. Truthfully, daily bread is our right now provision. It’s all we need for today, and you and I are not to worry for tomorrow, and we are not to work in our own strength.
It can be frustrating attempting to chase purpose and vision. All we really want to know, fundamentally, is that our life is going to be worth it in the end. We want to feel fulfilled, but when we ask God to download the playbook to our souls so we can just know what we’re supposed to do already, all we see are glimpses over His shoulder just as he turns the page.
This is what I’ve learned. God doesn’t keep secrets from His kids. If He wants you to move mountains in His name, He won’t make you do the work with a plastic spoon. He wants His kids to trust Him, and sometimes that means we don’t see tomorrow’s plan because we’re meant to be focused on today.
Let’s put our plans down and stop digging at mountains with tools of our own making. I don’t know about your golden calf, but mine appears flimsy compared to His glorious temple. Sooner or later, His vision for you and me is going to be dispatched from heaven, and I want to be ready when mine arrives.
Oh, yeah…. spoiler alert. Aaron wasn’t kicked out of his job for the whole baby cow god thing. See, God can still use us, no matter how badly we lost the faith and stepped into fear-based decision making. I, for one, know this to be true first hand.
What does your golden calf look like? What will you do to destroy it today?