All Posts /

It Is Finished Now

It Is Finished Now

Editor’s note: Friends, I cracked open If I Don’t Laugh, I’ll Cry and did quit until the last line. It’s Molly Stillman’s story (and it’s a great one) because she’s been through so much and found Jesus at just the right time. I pray you’re encouraged and strengthened by her humor and her zeal for Jesus through this book. Pick up your copy today!


He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

The fact is, I could live to be 137, or tomorrow I could take a fatal kick to the head from one of my goats (and I really hope that doesn’t happen). I don’t pretend to have it all together or have this life figured out. That would be ridiculous for me to say. But at my current ripe age of thirty-eight (as of this writing), I do have the benefit of hindsight that has taught me a lot.

For the first twenty-five years of my life, I didn’t have God. So I did whatever I could to find the thing that could serve as my god. Tim Keller wrote a whole book on this idea called Counterfeit Gods, and you should read it. The idea is that all of us, whether we want to admit it or not, were created to worship something. And since we were created to worship our Creator God, if we don’t worship him, then our hearts will just look for something else to give us a sense of significance, a sense of security, a sense of self-worth, a sense of happiness and joy, a sense of meaning. If our heart doesn’t find identity in Christ, then our heart will find identity elsewhere. Whatever that thing is... that is an idol. An earthly idol. A counterfeit god.

Idol worship isn’t necessarily some golden statue, a shrine we set up in our living room, or Kelly Clarkson. Idols are the things in our hearts that take the place of God — things like our love lives, careers, families, children, power, comfort, financial security, hotness, homes, the cars we drive, or the clothes we wear.

  • In many ways, the idols themselves aren’t the problem. They’re simply things we are hoping will give us that which only God can give.

But, as idols always do, idols will break our hearts. And when an earthly idol disappoints us, we will react in basically one of four ways:

  1. We blame the idol
  2. We blame ourselves
  3. We blame the world... Or...
  4. We realize we were created for something beyond this world

With the benefit of hindsight, I’m able to see so clearly that all I did for twenty-five years was worship counterfeit gods and seek after earthly idols.

For years I idolized the love my parents had for one another, so I did whatever I could to replicate that. I bounced from relationship to relationship, looking for the things only God could provide: love, identity, and self-worth. I looked for someone to love me unconditionally, despite my shortcomings. I looked for someone who would tell me what I wanted to hear. When each relationship failed, I’d blame the idol (he was the wrong guy) or myself (I’m the worst and it’s no wonder he broke up with me).

I idolized the pursuit of success, achievement, power, and fame. I thought the only thing I’d ever want to do or be good at was to star on Saturday Night Live. After being voted “Class Clown” my senior year of high school, I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by my sorority in college. Clearly, this was my path! Sure, I was making people laugh . . . but I wasn’t happy. So when my dreams of moving to New York were thwarted, when I couldn’t get a job, when an improv show I was in bombed, or when I finally realized it was time to step away from comedy, I felt like I had no purpose. What good was I? Once again, I blamed the idol, and I blamed myself.

When I got a quarter-of-a-million-dollar inheritance, I went from having no money at my disposal to suddenly having a lot of it. I thought for sure that all this money would be my ticket to freedom. Money would get me what I wanted, and financial security would make everything all right. I watched my parents struggle financially for years and years and years. That wasn’t going to be my story! Almost overnight, the money became central to my existence. I’d suddenly attained the thing I’d dreamt of in my wildest dreams, but every time I spent money, I’d just say, “What’s next?” It was never enough. And then, when it was all gone, when I’d squandered every last penny, I blamed myself. In many ways, rightly so... It was my fault, after all.

When my mom got sick, I was too young to have the tools to process what I was seeing. The full, grim reality of her situation was hidden from me, so my mind was left to its own devices. In essence, I was merely seeing the outlines on a coloring page, and my mind filled in the rest with a combination of truth and untruth. I colored the apple red, but I colored the leaves on the trees hot pink. I was uncomfortable, so my idol became comfort — friendships, parental praise, and being a rock star in a Christian worship band called Doubting Thomas. I even tried to find comfort in my room in our house... I’d rearrange my furniture or move rooms whenever I was tired of things the way they were. Once again, it was something I could “control.” And when the earthly search for comfort failed me, I blamed the world. “Well, my mom is sick and life sucks right now, so let’s throw me a pity party.” When she died, it only got worse. The world was out to get me, and I was destined for a life of pain and suffering.

When I sought earthly pleasure apart from God, my joy withered. I spent all my time looking for an alternate, pseudo-salvation in the things of this world rather than looking for the peace, freedom, salvation, and true joy that can only be found in Jesus. And so God did what He does — He used a really weird, roundabout way to get me to leave what was comfortable, to move to North Carolina, to bring me to my knees and way past my breaking point, to help me realize that all the things I’d been chasing and searching for... only He could give them to me.

Pain is a much greater teacher than blessing.

But — God.

It took hitting rock bottom for me to discover that my identity is not found in making people laugh. It’s found in showing people the source of real, true joy. And that I am not the hero of my story, God is. I had to learn that my identity is not in the pursuit of my own power, fame, or glory. But it is found in the power of God within me, bringing fame and glory to His name, using the gifts I’ve been entrusted with to serve others, as a faithful steward “of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

I had to realize that I could not find comfort in financial security and that money, possessions, and worldly prosperity will only leave a person feeling empty and hollow. Money in and of itself is not evil; but the love and worship of money is. Through sacrificial giving, I learned that money is just a tool, and if stewarded well, it can be a powerful tool in building God’s Kingdom rather than my own earthly domain. I’ve learned this even more now as we’ve been on the journey of church planting.

I’m not saying I don’t still fight a daily, if not hourly, battle with idols. I do. We all do. What it amounts to is a constant self-evaluation — a personal inventory I take of where I am placing my hope, my identity, and my self-worth. Because if I’m not seeking Christ every single day, then I’m hopeless. Without God, I am hopeless.

  • There is absolutely nothing in this world that will bring me the lasting peace, hope, and freedom found in Jesus.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

Watch the Video

Excerpted with permission from If I Don’t Laugh, I’ll Cry by Molly Stillman, copyright Molly Stillman.

* * *

Your Turn

It’s not comfortable to talk about idols in our personal lives, but it’s so important! Anything that takes our attention and focus away from Jesus will absolutely disappoint us every single time. Let’s stick with Jesus and vigilantly guard ourselves against any idols that might tempt us! ~ Devotionals Daily