I have a weird pet. True story. Some folks have a dog, or a cat. Some folks have fish; is that even a pet if you can’t pet it? Some folks have snakes or lizards- again, not sure it’s a pet if you can’t pet it. Then we get into the odd pets- horses, llamas, exotic animals and such. But I have, probably, a weirder pet.
It makes travelling kind of awkward, but it’s just so handy to have around. I mean, it’s not practical, really, but I just feel so much better when I’ve got the little guy with me. I dress it up to disguise what it really is, because people would freak if they really knew. Some folks have dogs. Some folks have cats, or birds, or fish. I’m a golden calf kind of guy.
Exodus 32:4 (NKJV) “And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'”
I don’t remember how I got him. One day he was just there. God had given me riches for my provision and for the provision of my family, and one day, boom, there was this little golden calf. And I think I’ve started a trend. Maybe it’s not trending on social media, I wouldn’t know since I’m not really on it, but I think more and more people are catching on to the golden calf craze. #goldencalf ? I don’t even know what that means. I’m such a nerd. Anyway, back on topic.
Our God is a good God, and He provides for His children. And He’s provided,not just for centuries, or millennia, but for all of time. More than that, really. Before time began, God had a plan for you and me, so technically, God has provided before forever was ever an ever. Try saying that five times fast.
In the scripture above, He provided riches for the children of Israel as they left Egypt. Scripture says that the Israelites plundered the Egyptians. They left Egypt with great riches, and the riches designed to serve them ended up becoming their master.
It’s easy for me to read Exodus 32 and shake my head in disbelief that God’s people could do the things they did and behave the way they behaved. A golden calf? Really? Right after all God did? Right after all they saw and were brought through? All the miracles and signs and wonders and they made a false god? Really? They made it with their own hands, and they’re going to bow down and worship it? Really? Like in real life they did that? It’s not even a cool and powerful animal. It’s a stinkin’ calf! Come on guys!
But every time I get all uppity and start thinking, ‘How could they do that?’ I have to face the fact that I’ve done much the same. I’ve taken what God intended as a good thing, as a provision for me and my family, and exalted it to a place it should never be exalted. I’m not really up front about it and obvious with it. I mean, I dress up the golden calf so that it doesn’t look like what it is. I dress it up to look like something normal, something acceptable.
Like my job. I’ve gotten my priorities out of whack with my job before. I dressed it up so it looked acceptable, but working 60-70 hrs a week to ‘get it done’ and ‘hussle’ and to be the #1 guy, and all that…I was serving what God had provided for my provision. I was bowing myself down to it and serving it instead of putting it in its rightful place. Hobbies, relationships, even ministry- man, I can make a golden calf out of just about anything. I can make anything bigger than it’s meant to be and end up serving it instead of using it as the resource that God intended.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re looking around and you notice you’re surrounded by little weird golden calves- you’re overextended and serving what was meant to serve you. What do you do? I think realizing it and admitting it is the first step. You have to confess your sins to God before you can ever move forward. And that act of realization and confession with repentance, it does something on the inside. It produces that subtle shift in your heart. It puts you on the offense against those little golden calf jokers.
It doesn’t stop there, though. You have to destroy the golden calves. I’m not saying quit your job or quit all your hobbies. Hang with me. You destroy golden calves by saying ‘No.’ Saying no is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. That devious little golden calf will look at you with those big calfy eyes, and it’ll be hard, but you have to say no. It’s easy to say yes and to go with the flow. If I’d let it, work would consume me. I have to say no. I have to set boundaries. Saying ‘No’ to all those wrong things that want to rule you allows you to say yes to the right things, and you can’t say yes to the right things when you’re dragging golden calves around.
So, my fellow calfers…calf caretakers…ranchers? Are you a rancher if all you have is golden calves? Anyway. I hope this was helpful to you. It was an eye opener to me when I realized that I was getting out of whack with what I was serving and what I was saying ‘Yes’ to. I’ve had to start saying ‘No’. If you’ve got some calves, it’s not too late. You can start today by confessing the truth to God, and then saying ‘No’ to all those little calves that want to rule over you.