The enemy is alive and well on planet earth…
I am of the persuasion that once “saved,” always “saved.” That is, once one comes to a real understanding and acceptance of God‘s plan for salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ, one can not lose that salvation. I believe that even if someone saved falls into a worldly lifestyle, when they die they will enter heaven, even if their clothes “smell like smoke.” They have attained salvation, but just barely.
I am not looking for debate on this subject, nor will I entertain debate on this right now. I am offering that as a backdrop to say the following. I believe that Satan recognizes that he cannot claim someone saved by God’s grace. So his efforts in our lives aren’t, I think, intended to re-claim a soul; he cannot do that. His desire is to make the Christian ineffective. If I, as a Christian, am living a life that is not vibrant and Christ-centered, I am nearly useless for furthering God’s designs on those around me in my life. And that is pleasing to Satan.
On Saturday, February 4, we came back from the Dominican Republic from a short-term missions trip. The trip was unbelievably fantastic, and God reached me in several wonderful and unexpected ways. We had been warned that Satan would attack when we returned to the ‘States, and I kind of already figured that out myself. But it was good to be reminded. Because Satan didn’t waste any time, he got right to it with me.
Beth and I live in a small town outside Erie, Pennsylvania. To get to the D.R., we drove to Buffalo, NY, and flew to JFK in New York City, then to the D.R., and the reverse to get home. The road to Buffalo from Erie is nearly a straight shot. You just get on Interstate 90 and head east for a while. Easy. As is the reverse. But not, apparently, for me.
I have been to Buffalo, NY, multiple times in the past few years, travelling into Canada, travelling to the Niagara River for a drift dive, whatever. The route home is the same each time, and I know the route fairly well. However, on Saturday we got back from the D.R., I got the truck, got back to the airport, and loaded up. Beth and I were satisfied, content. I was looking forward to the ride home, just being easy with Beth and talking about the past week. And as we started for home, I somehow (I have no idea how) missed the turn to get on I90, and wound up in downtown Buffalo. Anger! Frustration! Bad words! And I hadn’t been back on American soil for more than, what, half an hour? We quickly got back on track and things settled down, but thus it started (clarification: the route error was maybe Satan’s, the reaction mine).
Beth and I missed church on Sunday, and spent the day trying to catch up on rest. I also took Monday off work for the same purpose. Through much of Sunday and into Monday, I just felt useless; ineffective; a failure. In short, I felt just as I had before we left. And what really depressed me was that it all happened so quickly. We just got back, for crying out loud! Geez! Couldn’t I even have one stinkin’ week feeling ok?
And then it hit me. Oh, yeah, Satan is going to attack! And he has. If he can just get me to slide into the way I used to be, I will be as ineffective as I was. Focused on the wrong things, depressed, and not living the abundant life that God promises. Oh yeah, I forgot! Well, we don’t want that to happen, do we? No, we do not.
So what do I do? I remembered the promises God had reminded me of the past week. I spent time in God’s Word. Prayed. Reflected. And I remembered, God doesn’t want my accomplishments, He wants me. He wants me to have relationship with Him, not for me to be focused on success, even success as a Christian. And how freeing that is. I am basking in His love, resting in His grace. I am learning this, and for me it is a huge paradigm shift, an entirely new mindset. I figure I will have setbacks, and times that I forget. But I’m working on it. Working on letting go of me, and letting God do as He will in me.
Gal 2.20: I am crucified with Christ and I no longer life, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.