Here's another big difference between God and an idol: the weight.
Consider this: you're packing up your house, getting ready to move to a new place. You're undertaking a new thing, and all your stuff has got to come with you. Now, you have to find more space in yet another box to put your idol. You have to pick it up, put it in the truck, take it out, carry it into the new place.
Isaiah says that idols are a burden on the weary animals that carry them. A burden. And he's not just talking about the donkeys and camels and oxen that carried the heavy loads for the ancient Israelites; he's talking about the Israelites themselves.
We are the weary animals that carry our idols.
And it's not just the physical weight; it's also the emotional and spiritual weight of these things that we carry around with us that do us no good. As we saw yesterday, every idol has a past and a present - a story about how it came to be, and how it came to be so precious, and an ongoing mythology about what it's doing for us.
But when we move, when we do something new, most of us take our idol with us and it becomes more than just a weight; it really is a burden. How can you ever do a new thing with an old thing slung over your shoulder?
You move into a new house, but the old idol on the mantle makes it your old house. You start a new job, but the old idol on your desk makes it your old job. You have a new baby, but the old idol from the last baby makes it the last baby. When you hold onto an old thing in a new place, it makes it an old place. And then, well, how are you ever supposed to move on?
We carry a burden from one place to another and then wonder why it is that we're never really free, that we're never really able to do anything new. We wonder why it is that we can't seem to shake the old ways, even when it's right there in front of our face that we're still doing the old things. It's a burden, just as the prophet Isaiah said so long ago (Isaiah 46).
Yet, here is what we must not forget. Here is what makes our God different from our idols. Here is what makes Him greater -
Though we are weary animals who carry our idols from place to place, the Lord our God carries us.
He carries us. He picks us up and takes us from an old place to a new place, from here to there. He sets us on solid ground, puts us where we can truly do a new thing. It's not a burden to Him; He does not weary of it. Because there's no weight to it. There's no being bogged down, not with the promise of a truly new thing right on the horizon. Not with, as we saw yesterday, hope - a future, something to hang onto.
When God carries us, we don't have to travel with all of our past on our shoulders; we travel with hope in the air. We are drawn toward something, not dragged. And we're not dragging all our junk behind us. Whatever we need, whatever's worthy, whatever's valuable is waiting for us there already. We go with hope, with promise, with anticipation, even when we're weary. For God carries us with hope from an old thing to a new thing.
We just have to remember not to take our old things with us. Leave them where they belong, in the past. In their scene in the story. In their place in time. Our next scene is coming, our new place promised. And God is taking us there. And He carries us.
We weary animals.