Things were going great. I could see all kinds of great possibilities lining up for me on the horizon. I sat there leisurely holding the wheel and coasting toward it when suddenly a huge wave appeared just off the port bow. The wave hit and tipped the ship of my life up on its side, nearly drowning me and my crew in the process. The good things I had seen on the horizon were suddenly lost in a fog of doubt and self-assessment. The wave hadn’t sunk us, but it had managed to draw our attention back from our daydreams and wishful thinking to immediate here and now, where we found ourselves still reeling and floundering trying to regain our bearings. This is the time that the Devil waits for. This is the time when his lies have the most effect on a person. Those time when we wonder what it was that we did to deserve this. I, being human, was wondering just that when the second wave hit. I was almost washed overboard into a sea of despair, thinking I had failed in everything that I had set out to do. Not only had I failed, I had failed miserably. Or so the enemy would have me to believe. You see, during all that time where I was leisurely steering my ship, I had let things slip my attention. Things I should have been paying attention to went unnoticed. This is the waves that sprang like magic out of the blue. The clouds were always there, I had just blinded myself to them, focusing on things way in the future. Above all, I had forgotten that my God is sovereign. ALL of this is according to His grand design. The great things that were there on the horizon may still be there, just beyond the mist that clouds the here and now, but I must see about fixing my ship and setting my crew to rights. Sometimes it takes a dunking to keep you from drowning.
There have been times in my life when I have gotten into arguments. No, really, I have. I know you find it hard to believe, but it is true. Nine times out of ten (or maybe eight, at least seven, I know) times it is because of miscommunication. More specifically on the definition of a certain word or phrase that I thought was a “given” meant something different to somebody else. I recall one time my wife and I got in a serious disagreement over the Bible. She said it was an ‘Instruction Manual’, and I corrected her (yep, mistake no.1) and said it was a ‘Guide Line’. When someone says ‘Instruction Manual’ I think of “place screw 15786509 into hole 344476349 and tighten until snug” or some such. You see it names the screw and the hole and tells you what to do with them. A Guide Line is more of “a good way to take connect these two boards with a screw. You may also use a nail or some twine, but the screw is the best way.” Do you see the difference there? It may only be a subtle difference, but there it is. It was enough that the Devil could stick his foot in the door and cause stress and dissention in the ranks. We argued over that particular subject for quite some time, and I had no idea why until much later. We were both saying the same thing, but using different words to accomplish it. The Bible tells you how to handle situations without getting bogged down with the specifics (like names of screws and pegs and what-nots). Now-a-days, with the advent of texting and social media we have to be extremely careful of how we phrase things, lest we give the enemy an opening. We as partakers in social media need to also keep this in mind and not take offense at the first perceived insult. It is really hard to apply the right ‘tone’ to some messages, and sarcasm often doesn’t translate well either (imagine that!) So when you read something you may find offensive, before you fly off the handle and start a three page rant about someone, and then unfriend them, you might stop a moment and try to figure out if what they ‘said’ was actually what they ‘meant’. (And to finish the story about me and my wife arguing, all was well as soon as I admitted I was wrong. There see how easy that was?)
I was discussing artwork with my family the other day (and if you know me then you know my ‘other day’ could mean any day that wasn’t yesterday), and I was trying to get some ideas for a new project. Anyway, my wife said I should do a picture of what I think the Devil would look like. That got me to thinking about it (but I haven’t done that project, I think it would be beyond my artistic abilities) and I’ve realized that I don’t think of the Devil the way most people do. Yes I believe he is evil, and yes I believe his motives are selfish and destructive, but his appearance is a completely different matter altogether. The Bible said that he was one of the chief angels, and that he was called the Morningstar. That leads me to believe he was fair to look at. Probably very handsome. I think he probably had a soothing presence about him, and an easy going manner. All of these things combined make him very deadly for the world of today. What do I think the Devil looks like? I think he has a multitude of faces, and most of them are not menacing at all. That’s what makes him scary. True evil rarely shows its real face until it is too late for its prey to escape. I try to keep that in mind as I travel through this fallen world. It reminds me that it’s a dangerous place and appearances can be deceiving.
There are a few words in every language that have double meanings. Sometimes even saying them with a slightly different tone or emphasizing different syllables can completely change the meaning of a word. The Devil has known this for a long time. Known it and utilized it for his own ends. Suddenly ‘love’ and ‘romance’ has been confused with ‘sex’. ‘Darwinism’ has come to mean ‘scientific’, regardless of the fact that is not. ‘Christian’ has become synonymous with ‘intolerant’. Evil has blurred the meanings of words and in so doing, a whole generation of people have been raised without an understanding of the true meaning of such words. What would the Devil have to gain by confusing these words? I can answer you in one word. Confusion. If you can keep someone confused and off balance, they are a lot easier to manipulate. Someone who is not thinking clearly are unsure of their actions. They make bad choices and cause bad things to happen. What people do not understand is that the Devil hates human. God created us and elevated us above the angels. This made him jealous. That jealousy is what prods him to torture anyone he can. And he has done this by simply blurring the meanings of certain words. Without those words, ‘morality’ has a totally different meaning. ‘Normal’ has a totally different meaning. ‘Marriage’ has a totally different meaning. And ‘honor’ has almost lost all meaning in today’s day and age. When you are raising your family in these troubled times, be sure they know what you mean.
I turned on my radio today and heard Lady Antebellum singing ‘Hey Bartender’. As I listened to the lyrics of the song I felt saddened that this is how we are showing people how to deal with their problems. No, I am not preaching about alcohol. I talking about telling people to ‘drown’ their heartaches. That isn’t an answer. It’s a patch, maybe. Maybe it will cause you forget the pain. For a little while. We all have pain and suffering in this life. It is an integral part of it. There isn’t any way to avoid it, but getting drunk to forget about it isn’t going to help matters. If you’re drunk enough not to remember then you’re drunk enough to do something stupid. Something you could regret when you somber up enough to realize what you did. Yet here we are telling people that this will fix it for ya! This line of thinking led into how the media bombards us with messages of ‘Alcohol makes it better!’, ‘Drugs make it better!’, ’Sex makes it better!’. All these things are false leads. They are just patches that only work for a short duration, if that. There is no true resolutions there. These are pale imitations of things that the Devil throws at you to keep you from realizing the truth. Not only that, they usually come with a multitude of ‘fish hooks’ embedded in them, and the more you use them the better chance you have of getting snared by something that is only going to make the situation worse. When you base your happiness in this world, the pain of loss or tragedy can become too great to bear. So you cover it up with patches. There is a better way. Talk to the Tailor. You think that if He created all things that He can’t fix a torn heart?
I have a problem. When I get off time, I tend to see the dollar signs ticking off one at a time off my paycheck. That makes it hard to enjoy the time you are spending with your loved ones. It’s one of the side effects of a society that is money-motivated. (I still think it’s better than socialism though. That method has been proven NOT to work.) It is also another tool that the Devil uses to steal your joy. When you are so worried about the bills that you can’t enjoy life, it’s time to change your lifestyle. Make some spending cutbacks, find a better paying job or something. It all comes back to the balance that I am always talking about. Life is a balancing act on a high wire over a bottomless pit of darkness and despair. Too much of one thing or the other can tip you off into that pit. Too much of another will send you over into the uselessness of frivolity which can only end in that same pit. I think this is what Solomon was speaking about in the Bible. He careened from one extreme to another just seeing what was worthwhile in life. It was useless and he said as much. God is balance, if you have Him, you have the key. All you have to do is learn how to use it.
Life requires balance. It doesn’t matter what angle you are looking at it from. Mankind has learned this through the ages. It is apparent in almost everything you look at. Eat a balanced diet. Learn to balance your social life with your work life. Balance your checkbook. Those are just a few examples of everyday things we are expected to learn how to do. Nature will go so far as to try to correct an imbalance. It has been scientifically documented that some amphibians will actually change sexes if one of the required is absent. It is something that was set up by the Creator. It is true with this physical body that we inhabit. You must have balance, and if you don’t your body will attempt to bring you into balance. You will crave things that contain that thing that you are missing. This is also true of your Spiritual body. Love, companionship, direction, these are all things that human beings need. This is what causes people to search, and while you are searching to be misled. The Devil knows you will be searching, and he will whisper in your ear how this pretty shiny or that pretty shiny will give you what you have been searching for. He will show you anything that will keep you from looking where he knows you will find it. Anything to keep you here with him. Anything so that he does not have to suffer alone. God is the answer. God will give you peace. God will end your searching and bring your spiritual body into balance. Without Him you will wander and search forever, never finding peace. And that will suit the Devil just fine.