Dancing Around the Golden Calf

The Beautiful Empty
February 20, 2014
March 6, 2014

Dancing Around the Golden Calf

podcast-icon Listen to: Dancing Around the Golden Calf
Read by: Rebecca Balko
Length: 8:31

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and Yule Brenner. With the exception of the years in active addiction, I have watched it pretty much every year of my life. When I was younger, what drew me to this movie I believe, was simply the story its self, the characters, and special effects, etc… I can remember getting a bit older, (probably 9), and loving the part where Pharaoh would say, “So let it be written…so let it be done!” I LOVED that line and milked it for a solid year at least. All my mom would have to say is, “Rebecca, I want you to clean your room” and I would respond with, “So let it be written…so let it be done!!” or my teacher might say, “Rebecca, you need to quit talking” (can you guess?), “So let it be written…so let it be done!!

When I began watching it again in my sobriety I started to see things in a different way and gain insights I had not previously possessed. I noticed throughout the movie, how very humble and human Moses was. He was stunned that God had chosen him to lead the Israelites out of bondage and slavery. He questioned God, “Why me Lord?” He became willing to just do what God wanted, without necessarily being made aware of all the “specifics”. He had moments that he thought he knew how things would happen, only to find it wasn’t as he thought, (Like when he had gone to Pharaoh and told him that “I AM sent me” and to “Let my people go!” Then Pharaoh turned around and told his men to have the Israelites try to make bricks without straw – which didn’t make the Israelites any to happy with Moses!) But Moses remained committed to following God’s direction, even when he didn’t know where it was going to lead. I can remember being able to connect SO MUCH of what happened to Moses and the Israelites to the process of my own recovery, that it would just give me chills. I would wonder, “God, why did you spare me? What good can someone like me possibly do? Why would You want someone like me?” I remember coming to a point where even when things didn’t go like I thought they would, I would recall the A.A. Big Book and say to myself, “God either is or He isn’t. He is everything or He is nothing. What is my choice to be?” I was also committed to trying and to follow God’s direction, even though “Ididn’t know where it was going to take me.

Probably 13 or 14 years ago now, I remember watching this movie for the umpteenth time and all of a sudden having one of the most profound epiphanies I have ever experienced. It began happening during the scene where a pillar of fire came down and God held back Pharaoh and his men while the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. I mean right there for all to see were these HUGE walls of sea water being held up while the Israelites were passing right through them! (Like the indisputable evidence of God that these walls of water would be standing on their own – right?) Suddenly, the pillar of fire disappeared and Pharaoh’s men began to charge after them. As soon as the Israelites saw this they started screaming and freaking out and running as hard as they could. Now, what was interesting was that the same indisputable evidence of God, (those walls of water), were still there, and yet they no longer took comfort in that….they just saw the object of their fear…being those who had enslaved them for so long! All of a sudden tears came to my eyes and my chest became tight with an awareness I’d not had before ~ because for the first time in my life, after watching this so many times before, I saw myself.

Prior to this it was always, “Those Israelites just doubt God so much! Can’t they see that He is with them? Why don’t they trust Him?” Suddenly, in a way difficult to describe, I realized, “I AM them!” The indisputable evidence of God, (or if you will…the walls of water),  in my life is that I wake up without the need to drink or drug, I go through the day and don’t even think about it, I go to bed with a clear conscience and looking forward to tomorrow. This isn’t possible! I am a REAL alcoholic and I should be drinking or at the very least, consumed with the desire to drink! Everyday those huge walls of water are being held up by invisible hands and I am being lead to safety and the promised land of better things to come! Yet all that needs to happen is for something to scare me, startle me, to change or to throw me off track a bit and there I’ll go, running and screaming…no longer noticing those miraculous walls of water anymore!

As the movie progresses there comes the time where Moses goes back on the mountain to be with God and receive the Ten Commandments for the Israelites. It ends up that he is gone for a REALLY long time and what do the people do?  Well, they become impatient and end up giving in to the idea that Moses isn’t coming back, that God had failed them and that they needed to create a new God! So they gathered all their gold, melted it and made a golden calf. They began spiraling into total debauchery and away from the very God, who not so long ago, had delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh. (Now in the past, I was always amazed and somewhat disgusted with this part of the movie, because I thought, “I can’t believe they would do this! How could they turn their backs on God like that?”) But on this particular day I actually found myself weeping, as I felt God lovingly show me… myself.

How many times had I said I trusted God and would wait on Him, only to get an idea to do something better and forget all about it? I would say, “Oh God, please help me!” …then I would find a man to do it instead. I would say, “Oh God, where are You?”…then I would just work extra hours to try and find comfort in staying busy. I would say, “Oh God, please take this feeling away!”…then I would feed into an eating disorder to fix myself.  I would say, “Please show me what You want for me to do!”….then I would do something…anything…but wait on that answer! Yes, I’m afraid “Dancing around that golden calf” was definitely my “M.O.”. Isn’t it funny how quickly we can see things “outside” ourselves, (looking at the faults of others), while being completely blinded to what is actually going on inside of us…our inner truths? My experience revealed to me on a very deep and personal level that only God can reveal absolute truths to me about my own heart. Now, why He chose to do it that day…at that time…and in that manner…I have no idea. But I sure am glad that He did. While it didn’t bring about a huge change in my life, it did cause a profound spiritual awakening. An awakening that I am and will always be “they”, if I will only look deep enough to see it.; That although God is always with me…. I will always tend to wander away; And that no matter how much I may want to see myself as a person of faith, I will always be prone to forget my proverbial “walls of water” whenever I get scared by something unfamiliar, I get impatient or when I just get full of my own cocksureness!  Thankfully … God never waivers, never gives up, never walks away, but always loves me and never leaves my side!

 © 2008 – 2014 Rebecca Balko