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God, The Devil or . . .

Sometimes you reflex(yes, RE-FLEX!) back to old habits or ways of doing things. I had a moment like that when not long ago, I reflexed back to 10 plus years of old abstract, and quite frankly silly pentecostal leanings that I thought were firmly hidden away behind some door in my mind. I was both appalled by them and a little amused. The thought that came to mind, that I will share in a moment, is one that could be used for either side of the spectrum of what God or Satan is doing in that moment.

Sometimes you don’t go to church because you’re sick. You’ve felt it coming on for days and there was that one Sunday when it hit big-time. You make the attempt to get ready and it’s just not happening. So you lay there in bed, with spouse and kids off to worship. Later, you get all the holy details of what you missed and you just know, this was a message specifically for you, and you missed it. Of all the days to miss church, it was a day God had a specific message for you. Some in church will use this to say Satan made you sick so you couldn’t hear the message. “Damn that Devil! He knows I don’t like listening to the message online!” 

To be honest, this is most evident in our own minds when we are sitting in our seats and “KNOW” we hear a message meant for our spouses or children and they’re not there to hear it. How incredible holy of us. Man, the ONE DAY, they’re not there and BOOM! God is speaking to them. That wily Devil. He always finds ways to distract us. My wife probably wasn’t even that sick, he just didn’t want her to her that!

I’ve seen and heard these kinds of things for years and its on the other side of the argument as well. “God, made me a few minutes late so I wouldn’t be involved in that accident” or “I missed the flight that went down by God’s divine intervention.” While its true that God’s hand is in all things, we tend to make it super-personal. We make it into God’s specific calculated plan for my life to do “X” instead of simply his providential grace on display in that moment. We become so me-centered in that moment that we forget, some people, even Christians died in that car accident or plane crash. We forget someone is facing or has faced tragedy that God is allowing to play out fully in all its pain and hurt. 

I remember one night before thanksgiving, where the local church I attended was having a special service. My desire was for my wife to join me. We attend separate churches and to be honest it was my desire to be little selfish in this moment and have her near me as we worship together, at least for this night. She was all set to go, and then she got a call from a single mom, a family friend in need of a baby-sitter in an emergency. Of course, this would be the day of the service. After a brief discussion, she told the young woman that she would watch the baby. This is an opportunity at displaying God in the vocation of neighbor and friend. I would’ve said yes a hundred times over.

Still, that door in my mind creaked open a little. That dirty little red-skinned, pointy-tailed, horn-headed demon with a goatee and a pitchfork, (if you’ll pardon the stereotyping), HE DID THIS! He made this woman need a baby sitter! He knew I wanted my wife beside me this whole time and he orchestrated the whole thing. That little sneak.

See, I have this amazing wife, who for some reasons continues to put up with me. Even now while I attend a different church, she loves me. My desire is to have her alongside me, but I wont push because I know her relationship with God is her own. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t ache to have her by my side on Sundays. I have no reservations about saying that. So when a rare Wednesday service like this rears its head, I’m going to jump on it. Now you understand why the devil wants to insert himself in this situation. He wants me to be miserable.

Am I being a little silly here? You bet. But with a grain of truth in that I have heard people from the other side of the spectrum, say they missed opportunities to hear bad messages on purpose. Basically, they were saying God kept them out of church that week. They were a few guest speakers at my first church I wish I could have missed by God’s intervention. So in consideration of the differences in Lutheranism and a more charismatic denomination, someone might look at this opportunity to watch a child as God’s protection from this stuffy religious institution that doesn’t allow the movement of the spirit. No one wants to get caught up in religion when we have a relationship. And yes, I’m still being sarcastic AND silly here.

Here’s the reality, the devil is sometimes in the details that we create. Sometimes we inappropriately insert God in it as well. My wife is doing the will of God in the simple act of serving this friend. I have a woman who is showing herself to be a blessing to me and others. She is serving someone in the simplest and most profound of vocations. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I rest in that and am glad for the wife God has blessed me with.

As far as those stray thoughts that creak through the door of my mind on rare occasion. I am thankful for the “on rare occasion” part of it. It means that I trust Him much more than I used to, though never enough than I should.  It means that I don’t need to worry which way the wind is blowing, but simply trust that God is the author of the currents.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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