Did you know that your soul is a battleground?
Did you know that we are all eternal billboards
for either God or the Devil?
I was pondering about Job, feeling his pain
as he sought to make sense of inexplicably
difficult events in his life. To Job's credit
he was a stickler for the precision of
reading the small print in the Divine-human
contract. So often we see those
"I have read and understand the rules" clauses
on the internet before downloading something.
We click "yes, we understand" when we haven't
even read the clause, just to get what we
need in a hurry. Think about that for a moment!
Job, however, was not that kind of man. He read
every word. He understood the rules.
He hadn't broken any of them and if he, or his
family had, he had done all the things necessary
to repent for them.
So dear Job is bewildered when terrible things
happen to him. He has questions for God.
Legitimate questions. Honest questions.
Questions that will make him a man by
way of face-to-face encounter with the
Living God. Job is good on paper but
not so good with encountering God (but
apparently still better than anybody
else at the time.) All that is about to change.
Job had the kind of questions, born of extreme
pain, that people don't usually have enough courage
to ask. People who end of asking these questions
get answers, but don't come back looking
or acting at all the same way they went in.
Job's soul was in deep torment, the kind
that sends someone just over the brink of what
they can handle. He checked and double-
checked, but he still did not understand.
He had done everything he should at his end:
that left God's end. And everyone knows
it is unwise to accuse God of being dodgy.
His friends said, "Don't even go
there!" His friends said, "No matter
what you say, you are a sinner."
His friends said, "Stop whining
and admit you are guilty". His wife
said, "Start whining and just let
God kill you." God, during all this,
is silent. If that doesn't make you
feel alone in the universe then nothing
Job was falsely accused. There is
the blatant kind of false accusation
that comes from outrageous lies
being spread about you. Then there are the
subtle whispered accusations that can
make you crazy with their insidiousness.
Furthermore, unbeknownst to Job, there
is Satan falsely accusing Job in the
heavenlies. Thank God the accuser of
the brethren has been thrown down.
The matrix of accusation, however,
The bewilderment of trying
to discern what has happened to
him, with the added misunderstanding
and accusation of his theologically
challenged, bible thumping comrades,
is like salt poured into an almost
inconsolable wound. His world was
destroyed and he did not even
have a good explanation as to why.
He could not explain what he feels
to be God's actions. So in his
darkest hour a wedge is
driven in between God and Job.
That wedge is not unrelated to a bet
with the devil that God agreed to! Stick
that in your theological pipe
and smoke it for awhile.
If you think that same wager
is not in some form actively battling
over your life today, think
again. Much has transpired
theologically since these events
in the book of Job happened.
Jesus has won the victory over the
wages of sin. We who are Christ's,
are hid with Him in God. The Holy
Spirit resides in the heart of
the believer empowering, counseling,
comforting, guiding. The
Enemy has been defeated. But
all that can sound like more
bible-thumping in our darkest hours.
Always, our chance to choose God over
the Devil stands before us. When
its your turn to cast your vote,
with a gale force wind blowing against
you, every truth we have read in books,
even good ones, even the Good Book,
can seem very far away. You still
have to choose. Our lives are still
a billboard for one side or the other:
for God or the Devil.
False accusation in some form will
cross your life. I am not telling
you it might. I am telling you it will:
whether it be at the hands of
enemies, well-meaning friends,
or the plotting of demons. It may be
one of the hardest things you have
to bear because well-meaning "Job's
friends" will come to you, and
plant subtle or not-so-subtle
hints into your mind. Hints along
the line of "Did God say?" or
"We have this feeling" or
"God told me to tell you" or
they will offer you a mish-mash of
every religious reason they have
ever heard to account for
your pain. You will begin to
doubt yourself. You may begin
to doubt God. And a wedge can
begin to grow between you and Him.
Pressure brings out the most
amazing things in us. How quickly
we are tempted to stop the
dance of praise to our God, and
roll up the banner of adoration
to our Christ, when something
inexplicable befalls us.
We see something bad has happened
and we rightly sense that God
has allowed it, but we do not understand
His reasons in allowing it. Perhaps
it is our interpretation of
the idea of "allowing it." Do
we really think that God doles
out suffering and uses the devil
as His excuse? Please do not
hurt His heart by thinking that!
It is in the midst of our pain
that we are most open to these most
destructive whispers of the devil,
of his cohorts, of our well or ill
meaning friends, or our own hearts.
The pain of others not understanding
and the the pain of 99% right and 1%
absolutely twisted demonic lie of the pit
can swivel our minds until we do not know
who or what we are.
This pain will bring out the most tortured
suggestions and we will HAVE to go to God,
with fear and trembling,
because this is where we
will find rest and this is
exactly where God wants to
bring us: into a closer
encounter with, and understanding
of, Himself. He wants us to be free of the
torment of fear and dread and uncertainty.
Know that something important is
at stake. What you do with your
dose of false accusation is on display for
God and the Devil, angels, saints, demons,
and a whole cloud of witnesses.
The stakes are this: every evil
force is trying to get you to
believe a lie about God and
get you to use the pain of being
falsely accused to strike out
and, in turn, falsely accuse God.
The devil hates God more than he
hates you and is trying to use
your pain to get you to hurt God
and, of course, destroy yourself.
The devil is a master of
non-sequiturs. He will tell
you a bit of truth and follow
it with the most damnable lie.
He will tell you that God is love,
but that loving pond scum like
you is not included in the love clause.
He will tell you that while
God is strong, he is ultimately
stronger. He will tell you that
while God has always kept His
promises, there are some He
might not be able to keep, because
you know, He has overspent on
His credit card and can not
make good on His promises. He will
tell you that while God says He
is good, what He has allowed
to happen to you is not good no
matter what way you frost it.
All of this and more will come
to get you to accuse God.
And make sure you hear this
part in case you started to
doze off: the arguments will be
tailor-made to your weakness.
The good news is that you alone have
the chance to determine what
your eternal billboard will say.
"I am my Beloved's and He is Mine,";
"God is light and in Him there is no
darkness at all"; "The Word of the Lord
is righteous,and everything He does is Good."
Wouldn't you love to have something
like that burning forth from your soul for
all the universe to see? How wonderful to see
the lights of the righteous burning brightly
amidst a dark night!
I ask you: "what if some unseen hand
could pull back the curtain and show you
your audience?" Would it change
how and what you are thinking?
Would it help you refocus
your eyes on your innocent
and good Lord? Would it help
you cast down the false accusations
that you may be developing
Anselm said, "I do not understand
so that I might believe,
I believe that I might understand."
There are things too great for
us, wisdom to high, things we
are not privy too: they need
not keep us from childlike
trust in God. This is not
blind belief: it is unadorned faith, faith
best born and proved in the darkest
night of the soul. God has showed
us too much of His love for our
hearts to really doubt Him.
One day it will all be clear.
I don't want for one minute to
have a history of doubting God's character
when the going gets unpredictably
tough and painful.
What is the redeeming value
of every dark and painful thing?
Through them we have the opportunity
and the impetus to encounter the
Living God and to have a vital
and active faith. They push us past our
human resistance to run up the road,
a road often not well traveled, and often
not well lit, to our Lord's house,
there to be caught up in
loving arms of our good Father.
Our creeds and dogmas have a lot of
truth, but they can not
give us encounter with God,
they can only bring us to the place
where we jump off to meet God.
Meeting God is fearsome enough, so often
it is pain and discomfort that
push us past our comfort zone
so that we decide to go to God directly
and stop listening to what people
say about Him. That journey can actually
mean the start of real faith,
not the destruction of it.
Although all the way up the road the
Devil will be taunting us with lies like
these: "He'll turn out to be the Wizard of Oz";
"He'll fry your socks off!"; "He's too far
away for you to reach Him."
Pay no heed. God is all that He says that He is.
Go see for yourself. Just be prepared to have
your notes blown out of your hand and your hair
to turn white when you hear God's answer. And
make no bones about it: God will answer
us when He is ready to and not a minute before. While
you are waiting, trust His goodness. It will make
having to put your hand over your mouth in shame
just a little bit easier when He finally speaks.
And when you do see Your Lord and his good intent
for you, your billboard will glow with
praise of God.
You, yes, small, little, you, have an important
eternal vote to cast! Your life can and does
stand for God or the Enemy. There can be quite a bit of
opposition when you get nearer to the polls.
Souls are won and lost in that battle. Never forget that.
You have a vote the devil wants. Make darn well
sure he never gets it. Even over your dead body
he cannot steal your vote for God once it is cast.
Know too, that Your Lord has already walked this
way ahead of you. He is not asking for you to
do something He has not already done. He has cast
His vote in favor or His Father, and He has endured
great and unreasonable pain because of false accusation.
Be comforted by this: if you are falsely accused,
Someone has been falsely accused before you. Your
Lord knows what it means to swallow that cup and
drink its dark dregs.
The world has a bigger grandstand than you know.
Even now the crowds are gathering to watch what
you will do.
Stand with and for God. There is no greater meaning your
life can have.
faith in difficult times
belief in God
the purpose of life