I took those Crosses off the walls and flung them across the backyard. Where the hell was God anyway???
We’d gone to Church every Sunday. We sat next to one another for dinner every evening and prayed before the meal. We held hands as we fell asleep every night.
We were the family that prayed together.
We should have been the family that stayed together!!!
I was so angry with God in those early months. I’d believed all the clichés and had made most of the right moves, but my husband was tempted and no amount of my begging God to fix our marriage or to bring him back was working.
What kind of God didn’t want our marriage to stay together?
He should have worked harder in our lives!
Life Doesn’t Go as Planned
So many times we think something should go a certain way and when it doesn’t, we cry out to God demanding He make it right – and so often God sits back and waits patiently while we accuse Him of ignoring our cries for help.
When the earth shattering pain of divorce is in full swing, we say and do things we later look back on with regret, whether it’s hurling Crosses across the backyard in an attempt to throw God literally out of our home and out of our lives or hurling angry words at our exes, our in-laws, and even our own families and friends in warped attempts to protect our shattered selves.
These actions, while understandable, don’t help us process and work through pain. They provide temporary adrenaline rushes hiding wounds without healing them and keeping injury latent and festering beneath the surface.
While God watches patiently, waiting on the sidelines for us to embrace Him, the devil is just as subtle but not nearly as patient. He sees small openings and actively but secretively squeezes in making us think our actions are empowering when in reality they are like cheap street drugs giving a temporary high but designed to distract from pain rather than cure it.
Seeing Sin & Temptation in Yourself
The devil of greed and laziness and temptation is often easy to spot in others, but harder to spot in ourselves, especially in the heat of the moment; yet the Bible tells us to remove the plank from our own eye before taking the splinter from another’s.
Plank? How could I have a plank in my eye? I was loyal to my marriage, to my vows, to my God, and to my husband – more or less.
More or less???
Yes! When we are given much, much is expected of us. I was given much faith but I became lazy in its execution and it made me lazy in my marriage, in how I treated my husband, in my prayer life, in my worship, in so many things! I was living on the premise of good enough being Good Enough!
And I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t see God sitting back waiting for me to stop living a lukewarm faith, for me to stop giving the devil little openings to squeeze through.
When something goes wrong, we are ready to cry out to God in anger and pain. We hurl accusations at Him but aren’t willing to be patient and let God work out the details. We are caught in the battle of Good and evil and pulled in two directions. When we demand to be in control, God give us our freedom. He lets go and waits patiently.
The devil is not as generous. When we demand control from God we are pulled like a rubber band that has been let go. We experience a bounce and a freedom to fly quickly through emotion but we are not really in control but rather out of control. We have hand control over chaos of Satan by shutting God out without even realizing it.
Sometimes the devil is easy to spot. Most of the time he’s not.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus saw the devil clearly, and yet even He was tempted by him. Jesus was hungry and the devil told him to turn stone into bread.
Jesus was the blue collar son of a carpenter, not a wealthy king which was His birthright, and the devil taunted Him with all the riches and power of this world.
Jesus stood atop of the temple and was told to turn His free will over to the force of gravity and prove the Lord’s power.
Jesus didn’t fall to temptation because He saw the devil for what he is and realized that strength comes from patience and self-denial. Jesus, who is Love, knew the Truth behind the cliché “Money can’t buy Love” and denied Satan’s tempting get-rich-quick scheme, and Jesus knew He didn’t have to test the Lord’s Love by foolishly defying gravity and demanding the Lord save Him.
How often do we attempt to defy gravity?
How often do we give in to forces that pull us down as surely as gravity does and then demand the Lord save us? How often do date the wrong person because we are lonely or long for love rather than wait for the right person, the right time? How often do we hold onto unrequited love because we are afraid to love and risk again? How often do we throw ourselves into work because we fear not having enough? How often do we hurl ourselves off the cliff of anger and jealousy and then cry out to God as we fall headlong into fear and bitterness?
Sometimes the devil is easy to see acting in others but harder to see acting in ourselves. When he attacks, he uses our natural inclinations against us and we are pulled down as surely as if we hurled ourselves off a temple roof.
The trick is to recognize when to fight our natural instincts, to recognize when the Lord is allowing gifts of fear and pain to move us toward True Peace and Love and when Satan is giving us fear and pain to destroy us, when the Lord is giving us gifts of Good to draw us closer to Him and when Satan is giving us gifts of temporary good, as those adrenaline rushes can do, to pull us farther off the path of healing.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Satan isn’t always as easy for us to recognize as he was for Jesus in the desert, but Jesus, who is Love, saw Satan for who he is.
But what did Jesus really see in the desert?
I wonder what Jesus really saw in those days in the desert. I wonder if the devil was really presented as clearly to Him as the Bible makes it seem or if Jesus actually saw Satan because Jesus sees sin for what it is while we look at sin through our human eyes. I wonder if Jesus sees sin stripped of its justification, its temporary adrenaline rushes, and its momentary ability to bury our pain and that’s why he saw Satan when we might not have.
I wonder if blinders were lifted from our eyes, as they will be one day, if we will see our temptations laid out as clearly as Jesus did in His time, as clearly as He sees the temptations we blindly embrace today.
Your job is to take the blinders off, to try to live this Lent and through your years as Jesus did, without blinders, to see sin in your life without the rose colored glasses offered by Satan, to avoid temptation when possible and, when confronted with it, to see it for what it is, to face the devil and turn him away, to see Satan and his offerings to you as clearly as Jesus did.
It’s a tough calling, especially when you’re working with a broken heart, and you never know how long your time in the desert will last, but you can be sure that when you clearly deny Satan and the temporary lift defying gravity offers, you will not be pulled down but lifted up. When you deny the urge to jump off the temple roof and demand God save you, and instead wait patiently and learn to embrace Him, you work through the pain and are gifted with all the Peace and Love the Lord offers to those who use freedom to choose it.
Hang in there…With God, you can and will succeed!
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