Can I confess something? I am one of those people who loves love. I like watching romances and reading them. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I don't just mean romantic love, either. I tend to tell my closest friends frequently how much they mean to me and to (sometimes) overwhelm them with affection.
Because I'm wired this way, I've noticed (like many of us) that it's very easy for me to get my sense of worth and meaning from relationships rather than getting it from God. If things are going well relationally, I am lulled into a sense of fulfillment and feel less of a need for God.
I've especially been noticing my tendency to make relationships an idol during this season of my life, because all of my closest friends are currently living far away. I find myself far too invested in what is happening elsewhere, rather than putting my hope in Jesus.
John Calvin famously called the human heart an idol factory. We are wired to love and to worship, and each of us are prone to taking good things and trying to make them the most important thing. This is a topic that gets discussed so often in the church that we may be inclined to dismiss it. But if we are to live as God intended, this is something we can't ignore. Each of us must regularly look into our hearts on this. In Jeremiah 2:12-13, God declared,
No matter how wonderful our friends or jobs or significant others are, if we place the full weight of our hopes and expectations on them, they will prove to be broken wells. Because God loves us, He excels at allowing these things to disappoint us when we make idols of them. Some of the most painful moments of my life have occurred when I was hurt by someone or something that I had allowed to become an idol.
In his excellent book on this topic, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller writes that when God challenges us on the things we have made false gods, we can often react in bitterness or despair. Or, he says, we can do what Abraham did when God asked him to sacrifice the person he loved most. We can say to God,