“My people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. (Jer. 2:11–12)

IN ORDER TO SURVIVE the relentless summers, the Israelites used cisterns to store water. These cisterns were carved out of stone and about twenty feet deep, ideal for catching and storing rainwater. To keep the water from seeping out, they covered the bed of rock with a sticky plaster. Despite their efforts, sometimes cracks would still form in the rock, and the water supply would slowly drain away, rendering the cistern useless until repairs could be made.

Jeremiah scolded the Israelites for aligning with false gods, comparing their idolatry to broken cisterns. Instead of depending on the Spring of Living Waters they chose their own way, rendering themselves useless. Often we wonder, “How could they do that?” But in reality, we are just as guilty.

An idol can be defined as anything that takes our focus away from God. When we’re impatient, bitter, demanding, or discontent, this is evidence that we’ve taken our eyes off of Him. In those moments, we become our own biggest idol, and are therefore rendered useless vessels in God’s kingdom. The only way to repair the cracks is to allow God to plaster them with His hand of mercy and forgiveness in response to our repentance.

Right now, ask God to reveal any idolatrous attitudes and behaviors in your life.

Rebecca Aarup studies at Liberty University and enjoys leading small groups in her church and mentoring other women.