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This is so in line with all I have been studying and contemplating this week. Why don't we see ourselves as God sees us? Well, for me it is in a root of rejection and fear that I learned as a small child. I chose to walk in that instead of the calling of my Lord.
I can remember when I first married my husband of nearly ten years. Everyday I would ask him this "snare" of a question: "Do you love me?" If he dared to answer me, "Yes," He would get, "Why?" And Lord, Oh Lord, help him if he said, "Because you are my wife." That said, we will not even approach the opportunity for him to say no or I don't know. I would emote and erupt in high dramatic fashion, weeping and languishing because I just knew one day he would wake up and realize what a mistake he had made by choosing me. Without concrete, me-centered reasons, I just knew our marriage was doomed. To make matters worse, my man of few words likes to go to bed early and I would most inevitably start these conversations just as we were crawling into bed. Even if he wanted to, the opportunity to love on and cherish me died with the second question! I was a miserable mess of a girl. I do mean girl, spiritually immature and highly dramatized. This leads to everyone around me being highly traumatized, don't you think?
I believe our inability to experience the romance and the adventure of life, the very thing we were created for - deep longing, living with passion, and completely enthralled with the experience must be traced all the way back to the Garden. We picture the serpent as "a creepy thang," to use my southern twang... (I just can't help myself... I have to add a little rhyme)! But the Hebrew word often translated "shrewd, crafty, and cunning" can also be translated as "subtle, prudent." I kind of picture him less like a snake in the grass, and more like a glimmering, shimmering beguiling thang. We often think of satan as the classic "used car salesman" type (no offense intended) - pushy, deceitful and outright appalling. But he isn't coming on the scene with greased back hair, a cheap plaid polyester suit and a great sales pitch. As a matter of fact, he doesn't have to suggest too much before we are moving smoothly in his direction. He gently seduces us with the mundane and ordinary routines of life. He troubles us with calendars, day planners, palm pilots and keeping up with the neighbors.
He suggests that Sally didn't like my dress, "Did you see the way she looked at you?" I hear him ask.
He amplifies the hurtful words. I see him with his megaphone as my daughter haughtily declares her independence with a roll of the eyes, a stomp of the foot and huff in the direction of her bedroom.
I can hear him whisper as I crawl into bed. "See how he just crawls into bed and turns his back on you. He doesn't even know you're alive. Did you notice he left his boots by the chair and his lunchbox on the floor by the door? What does he think, that you are his maid?"
I can hear him tsking away as I ponder the bills and look with great dismay at the bank balance thinking, "Oh Lord how will it ever stretch?" He smirks his response now, "Why are you calling out to Him... what has he done for you lately? Did He really say you could count on Him, that He would never leave you or forsake you? Where is He now?" And slam, the unworthiness fills my throat like gall as the tears fill my eyes and panic swarms in my heart. As the clock ticks time away and I waste my time in anxious worry, fretting and arranging - until finally I cave in and miss the mark once again.
The shame is repleat with guilty words that swirl in my mind, my voice this time. "You'll never change. How could you even do that? Why didn't you just trust God? Hasn't He always been faithful?" I fold like a bad hand. It takes me days to face my failure, weeks to finally admit it to God and in all of it I missed the miracle He planned, the great revelation He had prepared and I hang my head and weep instead of glory in the Joy of the Lord.
Friends, it is where our reality will meet our faith! Seeing ourselves in the eyes of Christ instead of the eyes of His enemy. Satan is discounted when he is seen as a comical character with a bag of tricks. He is a worthy adversary - the Adversary as the original Hebrew word appoints him. We must never believe we can do battle or face life's daily grind in the natural. It will kill us, destroy our witness and defeat our God given purposes.
Last night I was watching a television teacher who goes deep in exegetical teachings of God's Word. She was reading from C. S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters." The exchange in this fictional work is between Wormwood an underling in Satan's demonic legion who is being mentored by his uncle, a commander in the legion, Screwtape. I was caught by the advice he gave to lure people into mundane, ordinary existence. He warned Wormwood not to pose staunch arguments and get us thinking, but to lull us into indifference and quiet appeasement. Satan is a con-man - counterfeiting the works and blessings of God to His own children. Listen as Lewis weaves the web in the voice of Screwtape:
"I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy [God], of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years' work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defence by argument I should have been undone."
He then goes on to explain that he used the man's natural appetites and healthy desires to distract him from the Lord's drawing.
From this intriguing dialogue I found these truths jumping off the page: 1.) When a person's thoughts go in God's direction, He attends to them immediately. A single "God thought" left unchecked can undo years, decades even, of satan's twisting. Man's ability to reason coupled with the renewing of our mind in Scripture is the greatest weapon we have against satan - well second to Christ who does battle for us in ways we cannot even imagine. Remember when satan speaks, he imitates our own voice and makes us think it was our idea. He uses our environment to breed distraction and distrust in our lives where God is concerned. 2.) Arguments, questioning, engaging conflict surrounding those negative influences, appetites and desires or tendancies toward the wrong thing forces us to reason, reasoning brings an accounting and then we must decide. We choose who we follow. When you hear and perceive condemnation you should always ask God when you begin to doubt and question - start crying out, "Lord, is this from you?!" God will answer - He wants you to live abundantly not making the journey between pitfalls.
The question that remains is: What do we do? 1.) We recognize that our natural appetites and desires can be deceiving and our emotions will get us into trouble. (See Jeremiah 17:9), 2.) We must guard our hearts by planting His Word, hiding it, deep in our heart. When the enemy comes to assault us with doubts and lies, we speak truth to him in response just as Jesus did in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 4:23), 3.) Know the antedote to Jeremiah 17:9 - 1 John 3:19-20 (NIV), "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything."
Just get it out there on the table! Tell Him about it, God knows what it is you don't want to share. He sees it in the inner most places of your being. You are called to freedom, to be captivated by your God - not be held captive by your enemy and your sins. He is enthralled with you, He loves you. He died on the cross so you could be His Bride - the lover of your soul is calling, Beloved. He is calling you to a life filled with love, romance, great adventure, truth and most especially life fully embracing the heart of God that He gave you when He first called you woman.
I will leave you with Ephesians 1:3-10 (NIV) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."
Embrace it, commit it to your heart and your mind and when you hear arguments, little subtle hints that tell you His Word and promises are not true call that adversary exactly what he is, confront him with the truth and make your arguments sure as you quote the Word. Then believe truth, set one foot outside the door of your prison and run free through fields of grace to the grand, romantic adventure you were created for in Christ Jesus to live. Amen.