27 Apr Idolaters Without Knowing It
I enjoy sports – soccer, basketball, and tennis, but the one I enjoy the most is cycling. I am still passionate about watching the “Giro’d Italia and the Vuelta a España” where the great Colombian beetles have made history. It’s exciting! I enjoy this sport when I see it, but much more when I practice it.
I had never ridden a bicycle at a competitive level before the age of 30, but at the age of 31, one of my customers paid me with a bicycle. I initially did not want to use it, because it seemed very expensive, so the bicycle stayed in my office for a few weeks, hoping that my friend would pick it up and pay me the balance of the vehicle I had sold him.
Since that did not happen, one day I decided to go cycling, and I met a group of cyclists who went out to train every day. To my surprise, I realized that I was very good at this sport.
The following week I had already changed the bicycle for one that cost me three times more, and from then on and for a few years, I became an accomplished cyclist who changed his bicycle every year and also lived and thought only about cycling.
Owning my own business allowed me to have solvency and practice this sport with my friends and dedicate time to the training that it required.
Every day at 4:30 am I would go out for my daily training of 60 to 70 kilometers, but on Saturdays and Sundays I would train or compete in races of 120 to 150 kilometers long. We formed a cycling club “Montecarlo Ciclo Club. We were around 25 members. It was an elite club where there were certain requirements starting with the brand of the bicycle each should own. It had to be a fine, expensive bicycle in order to be able to be accepted. Anyone interested in joining also had to be a business owner or at least a manager of a major company. Being a member of our team was not easy, although there were some exceptions.
We trained every day, and on weekends we competed (120 or 150km) against professional cyclists like Martin Emilio “Cochise” Rodríguez “world champion of the hour” and others like Chalo Marín and many others. For some years we were the best team in the recreational field of the Coast (Barranquilla). Amongst us was Rubén Darío Arcila (the “poet of the Narration”, considered the best cycling narrator of the Tour de France and the ‘Giro d’Italia). He would also broadcast the races that our team organized. Part of our team was Mike Fajardo who narrated our races in Panama, Venezuela and several other cities in Colombia, always with excellent results. Camping was also part of our trips. We had 20 to 30 cyclists who went camping with bikes and all, to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Every morning at 5:00am we went out to ride. We kept training and returned around 10:00am to have breakfast, rest, and be ready to start another training the next day. It really was a time we all enjoyed.
The entire foundation of our lives was around cycling and bikes. If we went out with the family somewhere, the first thing that was in the car was the bicycle. Anything else could be forgotten, but never the bicycle. That was my passion, my sport, my life.
I still remember the nicknames, because it was the way we knew each other. Nicknames such as the bad ‘Rabbit’, ‘Calceto’, ‘parish’, ‘duck’, ‘Ñato’, ‘Potassium’, ‘Chicken’, ‘Rema’, ‘Pello’, ‘dog’, ‘Morpheus’, ‘Terminator’, ‘Caliche’, ‘La tortuga Berrio’, ‘Cabecita de oro’, ‘el mono’, ‘Boli-queso’, etc. Sometimes we did not know each other’s actual names, and if we wanted to know who we were talking about, we needed to mention them by their nickname. Mine was ‘the Eagle’.
Our life revolved only around our business of selling vehicles, riding a bicycle and competing in cycling races. My wife and kids weekend program were to go after me in training, then go to competitions and accompany me to the awards. Once the competition was over, we would go back to sleep, rest and get ready for the next week’s competition.
This dynamic seemed normal to my wife and children, because it was the environment in which we moved; bicycles, cycling and competitions. Clearly my god at that time was my bike and cycling. Cycling and all that it came with it, became “the god” to my family without realizing it.
This is how an idol becomes more important than God. This false god, this idol, tends to occupy the first place in our hearts and minds. This idol absorbs our imagination and keeps us distracted and busy, looking for something that in reality only the God is able to give us.
The idol has such a position of control in our hearts and minds that we can spend most of our time, passion, and energy on them, without thinking twice. An idol can be for example: your family, your children, your profession, your alcohol and marijuana addictions, your parties, your accumulation of money, your achievements, even the ministry of your church and the study of the Word, your business, your sport, your vehicle, your house and as in my case, my bicycle.
The first commandment in Exodus 20 says “You will have no gods before me” and it is possible to have an idol in our hearts and not know it, all because we do not know the Lord and his Word. What is normal for one family may be craziness for another. At that time, that relationship with that particular sport was normal and even encouraged from the outside world. But before the Lord, we all have idols that steal our energy and our hearts and lead us into slavery and idolatry without us realizing it.
Today I can only thank our Creator for taking out of me one of many idols that were in my heart. Today, I can clearly see how God has transformed my life and my family’s life in many aspects.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Today I can see how God has changed many things in my life, cycling was one of them, but God is not finished with me. He is still working in our lives, because when He starts the work, He will perfect it .
This is a time to meditate and search our hearts and see if there is any idol in our hearts without us noticing. Sometimes we think that idols are images of wood or ceramic, but an idol can be and is more than that.
There is a way to do it – to examine ourselves with the scripture. In Luke 6:45 it says, “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” What is it that moves your life and the passion that is in your Heart? What are you talking about when you are at a family gathering or with your friends? How about your family, wife, children, work, sport, ministry, parents? Is God your first step when you get up? And the last one when you go to bed?
Lamentations 3:40 “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” This is a time to examine our hearts, to see what idol is in our hearts, what is occupying the first place in our hearts and in our lives, and then it is time to repent and turn to God.