The long road, on which we travelled more than 20 hours in order to reach Alberta Pioneer Camp, turned out to be somewhat allegorical to the journey that we were placed on, to realize and address our idols. This past week Nathan Rieger stayed with us and spoke to us about idols we have placed alongside or before God in our lives. The week was not an easy one, but we took the stories and lessons into our own lives and were challenged to grow as we faced many of our own personal struggles.
Emma Martens shared this reflection on our week with Nathan:
“I was definitely challenged this week, but in a good way. Before Nathan talked to us about idols, I thought that idols were just a religious depiction of something/someone who wasn’t God. If you would’ve asked me what first came to mind when asked what an idol was, I would’ve probably said ‘someone to look up to’. A role model of sorts. I never really thought of an idol as something negative -whether it be sacred or secular- that takes the place of what only God should provide. I won’t share what my idols are because it’s pretty personal, but knowing what they are has completely changed the way I think about myself. I’ve always thought I’ve been relatively self aware, but now I know that there’s always so much deeper you can go. One problem I think many of us faced after figuring out our idols, is how to get rid of them? Or how do we turn them into a positive thing? For a lot of us, myself included, our idols have incorporated themselves into our personalities and our everyday lives. How do we change/alter/abandon such a big part of our personalities? This is something I’m SO looking forward to figuring out as I get older. Listening to Nathan was weird and amazing. In that, I mean that there wasn’t anything huge that I disagreed with him on. Everything he said was so deeply emotional and real and raw and sincere. We had a sharing circle one day, and many of us ended up crying. Whenever someone cried Nathan said, ‘Thank you for your tears.’ I loved that so much. I could’ve listened to him talk for a lot more than three days. I am very, very excited for the time we will get to spend with him when we get to South Africa.”
Nathan spoke to the reality of how in his travels he has seen people accept Jesus as Lord, but in doing so many of them placed a representation of Jesus alongside the rest of the figures of different idols they held previously. In our walk through Christianity we may have separated Jesus from golden idols, but we found that just the same we have placed some of our idols alongside Jesus. Our idols may be different in that they are not physical statues, but things such as the societal expectations and standards of beauty or strength are things so prevalent along our mantelpieces. They become idols when we let them judge us and give us value in the way that only God should. Many of the idols that we have found within our lives give us “love if…”, but God gives us unconditional love- love despite our faults.
With prayer and in God’s strength, we move forward together.
Scribed by: Sarah Martens and Olita Elia