Archive for January, 2011

We’re Scaring Everyone.
January 18, 2011

“Bo sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8

 

After my mom miscarried, I remember the Devil became a person of constant conversation in our household.  My dad’s red face would surround red eyes full of the hottest tears as he sometimes whispered and sometimes yelled of his hatred for the Devil.

I was little then, but I remember that the Devil wasn’t just a cartoon or a figment of our imagination or a mischievous imp that inspired Halloween costumes; he became our very real enemy.  He had taken one of us, and we would never get over it.

In so many ways he already had a firm foothold in our lives; each of us broken with sin, each of us at times having hurt each other so deeply, each of us at times retreating wounded.  And over the years, since I was first made aware of him, I have watched us fall defeated and I have watched us battle till we were breathless.

Painting a picture of the enemy is difficult without much to go on.  People like to leave him out of lessons, out of conversation, even out of testimonies.  So as I grew up, Frank Peretti, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, a terrifying Carman concert, and a few movies were about all I had to piece together who this prince of darkness was.   We are a people who believe in what we can see, and the heart of mine that struggled to believe an intangible God could save me is the heart that didn’t want to believe in the power of an unseeable enemy. 

Last night I sat at Applebee’s with one of my closest.  She swiped tears out of her eyes in between bites of her Oriental Chicken Salad and slurps of Pepsi.  I reached across the table and grabbed her hand as we named the Devil’s presence in our lives.  To she & I, he rules our insides with the iron fist of Fear.  And where we fight, where we have fought, where we have felt victorious, he comes in cloaked differently and attacks again.  We’re two girls with straight sparkly smiles, enviable closets, tightly-knit families, and to-die-for friends, and yet our hearts shake & our nightmares riot with constant fear.  Not one known for being quiet, my voice reached over our booth as I ranted against Satan and our hurt.  Before my words could get farther into the ears of the waitress, hostess, frat boys at the table over, and bartender, I stopped almost laughing…

“We must be scaring everyone.”

 

We live as gods these days, don’t we?  We pick and choose our beliefs, our truths, our purpose.  We piece together the bits of the Bible that “work” for us and leave out what makes us uncomfortable when we wake up in a somewhat stranger’s bed.  And we don’t talk about the messy stuff…the ugly stuff…the scary stuff.  We walk boldly into the latest Sunday service at the hippest church, unashamed that our hair smells of smoke and our breath reeks of well rum, it doesn’t bother us in the least that our v-necks dip too low and our skinnies look painted on.  We aren’t afraid to make jokes of purity and holiness and devotions and Bible camp and church as a whole, just as long as we make sure to get our heaven-card hole-punched once a week or so.  Those of us that have been hurt by the “church” or that have watched people we love be hurt by the “church” are quick to wave words and banners of love, to paint lovely sunset-hued portraits of the God we want everyone to know, and to squirm at the word “saved.”

I’m so scared to seem like a salesman, that I’ve lost the boldness that once grew wild in me.
I tiptoe so carefully around what’s true that it’s truth becomes invisible in my life.
I try to bandage a thousand bleeding hurts inflicted by those legalistic fire & brimstoners by buffing the edges of inerrancy to a pillowy softness.

Telling people they need Jesus is a quick way to fall from Most Popular to Most Likely To Be Found In Headgear By The Punchbowl.
And as gods of this day we want to be cool.
There’s a reason my Michael Jackson moves are polished to a Billie-Jean perfection and my limbs are limber enough for a half-dozen rounds of The Cupid Shuffle, I’m good at being the life of the party. 
I’d rather tell the jokes than be one.

A few months ago a dear friend, and staunch atheist, looked at me with an inquisitively twisted brow… “I love that you don’t push God down my throat, but why haven’t you ever invited me to your church?” she queried.  I didn’t have an answer.

Scratch that.

Yes I did.

I just didn’t want to say… “Because I didn’t want to freak you out.  Because I want God to seem cool.  Because I want to seem cool.”

In our “accept everything and everyone” era, most seem fine with the fact that I love Jesus, but they wouldn’t seem fine with the fact that I want them to love Jesus.
And not just love Jesus, but come crawling dirty before Him, begging for needed forgiveness.
And not just come crawling dirty before Him, begging for needed forgiveness, but accept & claim Him as Savior.
And not just accept & claim Him as Savior, but give themselves wholly to Him, His Word, His Will & His Way.
And not just give themselves wholly to Him, His Word, His Will, & His Way, but preach His love and TRUTH to all the world. 

 

Hell is real, but we mostly talk of heaven.  Sin is real, but we mostly talk of sweetness.  The Devil is real, but we mostly speak of anything but Him.  It’s here again, in the hundredth way, that I feel his grip like a vice on my soul. 

If you’ve had a conversation with me anywhere in the last few years you’ve likely heard me say “The Devil comes to devour, not to simply snack.”  I speak that self-coined phrase as often as possible, to remind myself of it’s severity.

If he just wanted a bit of us, he could’ve stopped without breaking a sweat.  But instead he’s filled our world with brokenness, death, disease, hatred, hunger, immorality, abuse, murder, acts too horrid to name, and filled us with so much fear that we are afraid to name him as the culprit.  He’s made pointing the finger at him something we simply won’t do…because once he’s a part of the conversation, then so is hell, then so is God, then so is salvation, and all of a sudden we’re Bible-thumpers, and someone just speed-dialed the ACLU.  So instead, we donate to a George Clooney supported charity and go back to talking about the game.

What if the longings of my heart became the words that filled my conversations?  What if the energy I used online-shopping was thrown into life-saving prayers?
What if I unmasked that son of a bitch?   What if I named him and his hold on my life?  What if I prayed the power of Jesus Christ against him?  What if he got the blame?

What if fear didn’t run the show anymore?

 

 

I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to scare you.