I have a theory about the times when I question the Lord and it usually goes like this: I’m in a rough patch in life, things don’t seem to be getting better anytime soon, and I’m quickly becoming frustrated. I think to myself, ‘why would God do this to me, do this to them?’ ‘Why don’t I feel God’s presence and peace in my life?’ ‘Why does God let this happen?’ ‘Why isn’t God helping me for crying out loud!’ With the wise words from my spunky Grandma, I recognized to start knowing God a little better; I need to know the devil and how the devil works in the world. Yes, the devil... I said it. That creature lives on pleasuring himself through the destruction of pain, by placing a person in devised situations where they’ll be most tempted, and mentally devouring an individual by misperceptions, judgments, and personal insecurities. 1 Peter 5:8: “Be self-controlled and alert, your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour.” Do you think the devil doesn’t know you? Do you think he hasn’t done his research on what’ll catch you off guard? He has. He thrives on conniving schemes to crush you when you’re at your best. Oftentimes, the things you admire most about yourself are mirrored by the worst of yourself.
For me, I love freedom. I yearn to be freed from the control of school, the order of meaningless projects, and the forced demands of corrupt figures. To me, freedom painted in a picture is working the land in my Dickies overalls and hanging out with heifers in a patchy meadow with sweat dripping down by boobs and butt crack like the pudding river and the crisp taste of GT’s Ginger Kombucha on my lips. Hot diggity! I get so fired up and passionate talking about it! However, with my thirst for freedom, come activities that I ask forgiveness for: rebellion. I have many faults but I have the most difficulty with stealing and trickery. I have been a thief; I’ve used my smarts to plan out how I can deceive stores and markets in pure daylight, used my tongue to lie to people closest to me to protect my secrecy, and I have wiggled away from capture with a dramatic portrayal of false innocence. The worst part, besides accomplishing the shameful actions, is before I even act; I can sense the beginning of my tempted desires. Deep within me, I change; I completely transform who I am and what I stand for. It is a toxic, twisted, and overpowering force that I hate but is difficult to stop. My mind begins to race with different options, alternatives, consequences, and outcomes that can occur from my lustful hand. I’ve come to realize that the activities that I thought were a “thrill” are just a tainted sense of adventure and pride that the devil formulates. Romans 3:10-18, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away (sought their own independence), they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips; their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways and the way of peace they do not know, there is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Oh does the devil smile when I give into such temptations. I’m learning that by ignoring the fact that the devil is in our daily lives is hurting my relationship with the Lord. My Grandma told me a story while we were sitting on her back porch that sent fear coursing through my body. She said to me, “I went to my friends house at 11p.m. to giving her my love and support while she was distraught over the unknown whereabouts of her daughter. When I got there she was sobbing and shaking; so afraid that something horrible had happened to her. She was on the couch and I sat on the floor rug below her praying out loud that the Lord would comfort my friend, my mentor, and prayer partner that their daughter would be safe. It was now around 2:30 a.m. I was pleading with God for the protection of their daughter, when I heard it… I heard the devil laugh. It started like a low growl, I wasn't sure that I had actually heard it, then I heard it again, only this time it rose in intensity until it was a continuous cackle. I had never heard anything like it before… it was dripping, soaking evil...swirling around the floor where I was then around the couch where my friend lay asleep, exhausted from emotions of the day. It wasn't just what I heard, though, it was what I could feel in the presence of the moment: it was oppressive, controlling, almost choking. I remember thinking, ‘what should I do?’ Then I just said (and I don't know if I said it out loud or in my mind), ‘Jesus help me!’ Just as quickly as it had come… it was gone and I felt a peace coming over me. I had then gone home after Jesus had covered the room with His peace, and asked my friend to call me as soon as she heard anything. In the end, her daughter was safe and sound staying at a friend’s house.”
“Honestly, Chloe,” said my Grandma as she continued, “I questioned whether I had heard what I thought I heard. I realized it was not what I heard but whom I heard. Whether it was actually Satan or just one of his minions, I’m not sure…but it gave me a real tangible knowledge of what the devil is like. He doesn’t care about humans, about their feelings, or what happens to them. The One he really hates is God. God threw him, and his followers, out of heaven. He was the mighty Lucifer - the beautiful angel, but that wasn’t enough for him; he wanted to be God himself. The joke is on him…he is a defeated foe. Satan is so good at deception that he has even deceived himself: he thought he had won when Jesus died on the cross and cannot understand, even to this day, that the one who lost was he himself. He couldn’t hold Jesus in his grip of death. With Jesus’ resurrection, all mankind has a way of redemption and forgiveness. My friend never heard him laughing, only I did…but it was real and it taught me about Satan’s true intentions - always for himself and for the evil, never for good.”
My goodness… I couldn’t speak, I was uneasy, and even now I have the chills. Before that conversation with my Grandma, I always imagined the devil in a little red suit with knobby horns on his head and flicking his tail back and forth as he lounges in his chair. I was very mistaken, that is not who/what the devil is. He is not a cute Halloween costume that I made him out to be; I should have never given him the pleasure of such an appealing image. He is everything evil. No matter how much I want the world to be good and dandy, in total balance and equilibrium, it will never be the case because of him, Satan.
My Grandma recently repeated this story to me after telling her my struggles with negative assumptions towards another person; I think I heard them say something about me but I’m not sure if they actually were talking behind my back or if the content of the conversation was true (my mind was racing with angry scenarios full of attitude of what I thought I overheard). It wasn’t a huge issue but it kept eating at me, making my thoughts warped and bitter. Grandma said, “That’s the devil talking to you! Stomp your foot and tell him to get out of there!” James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” I hung up the phone; I closed me eyes and pictured there being something bad in front of me and within me: I stood up and stomped my foot, shook my fists, and stuck it to the devil, “You get out of here Satan! You nasty thing! This is no place for you; both you and I know the power of Jesus! God is going to get you!” John 4:4, “Greater is He that is within you, than he that is in the world.” To think that the devil was trying to trick me in the simplest of ways is eye opening. Without the advice from my Grandma, I would’ve questioned and blamed God. I read a book called “The Shack”, by William Young, and the main character is speaking to the Holy Spirit regarding the loss of someone close to his heart: “Did God use her to punish me for what I did to my father? That isn’t fair. She didn’t deserve this.” The Holy Spirit replies, “Is that who your God is? It is no wonder you are drowning in your own sorrow. [God] isn’t like that…that was not his doing.” God is not to be frowned upon; the creature to blame is the devil. What other things in my life have I been wrongly crucial towards God...?
After giving the devil the finger and telling him to buzz off because I stand with God, my arms got goose bumps all over and I immediately felt the power of Jesus surround me. I felt God standing behind me with this unexplainable force glaring the devil straight in the face. Knowing that God was standing with me and protecting me with dominance and grace will stick with me forever. God had my back that day like he always does. There is power in simply saying God’s name and believing as tiny as a mustered seed. Colossians 3:17, “…and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the NAME of Jesus.” Sometimes the “bad” in life is not God’s doing: Ephesians 4:27, “Do not give the devil a foothold.” Also, I’m trying not to be so dang hard on myself when I make a mistake. I can’t avoid problems, I’m not perfect, and sin has long been in the world! What I can do is this: realize the moments when I’m tempted most, where am I most tempted, and with whom do I tend to be most tempted (these variables tend to show a pattern of the devils work). By knowing these triggers I can be better prepared for when temptation is knocking and instead of falling into its trap, I can defeat it with the help of God. When I do fall into the temptation trap; I need to take ownership of my wrong, apologize to the Lord, ask for His forgiveness, learn from what I did, and do better afterward. Separate yourself from the rest of the bunch: 2 Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore, come out from among them and be separated’ says the Lord.” God doesn’t want us to suffer. He has nothing but the best for us in mind all day, everyday, all the time. I will not be afraid of the evils that exist for the Lord stands with me and I with Him. By knowing the devil, the light of the Lord is ever brighter.
Thank you Father, Amen!