The Devil Came For My Soul — And Couldn’t Find It.

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The Devil came to me in a dream last night, dressed in his red suit and pitchfork and arrogant grin.  We were standing in a rocky, barren place.  He looked around and pointed to some rocks on the ground.

“Hungry?  Sure, you could fast and pray, I suppose.  But why not turn these stones into some bread?”

“Wait, I can do that?” I asked.  (I was kind of hungry)

“In this place,” he smirked, “you’ve got that kind of power.”

“Well, I’m not really a bread guy.”  I turned and yelled at the stones.  “Turn into Nachos!  And a Diet Coke!”  And sure enough, a great big plate of cheesy nachos appeared, along with a 44oz diet coke, light ice.

“That’s it?” the devil blinked at me.  “No hesitation at all.  Just diving in to a plate of nachos.”

I blinked back at him, my mouth full.

“Okay,” he said.  “On to the next”.  He snapped his finger and we were standing on the roof of my church.

“Now,” he continued.  “Throw yourself off this building, and God will keep you from hitting the ground.”

“God would do that?” I asked.

“Well, you believe that bad things only happen to bad people, right?  And you’re a good person.  Right?”  There was a gleam in his eye. “Surely God would save you.”

“Good point,” I said, and before his horrified look I stepped off the ledge.   The fall was not a little bit frightening.  As the sidewalk began to loom before me I thought, “any time now, God”.

But it wasn’t God that saved me, it was the Devil, and he was looking perturbed.

“Look, I couldn’t let you hit the ground.  You’d go splat and then you’d wake up from this dream, and I’m not finished with you yet.”

I looked around to see where God was…probably lurking there in the shadows ready to save a good guy like me at the very last instant.

The Devil grimaced and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, we were standing at the top of Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas.  The Devil waved his arm across the plains around us.

“All you have to do is become my second in command, and all this –”  He frowned.  “Well, all this and lots more you can’t see from here, will be yours.”

“Second in command?” I asked.  “What does that entail?”

“Ah,” the Devil grinned again, “You simply have to agree that I am the absolute authority about what’s right and what’s wrong in this world.”

“Right and wrong?  Why would I think you’re the authority on that?”

“Because I believe exactly what you believe.  Every political opinion, every social issue, every theological, ethical, and moral concept, I believe exactly as you.”

“Well,” I thought a moment, “then in that case, I agree.  So, does my power extend out beyond Kansas?”

The Devil was no longer smiling.

“Do you not even care that you failed all three of my tests?  I mean, you conjured up junk food instead of fasting.  You hurled yourself off a building, naively thinking God would alter the laws of physics just to save you from your own stupidity.  And then you think so highly of your own view of the world that you’d bow down to it–to me–to yourself, instead of God?”

“Wait,” I said.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about TEMPTATION,” the Devil bellowed.  “But you give in so quickly.  Where’s the fun in that?”  He tossed his pitchfork over his shoulder and sighed.  “You wouldn’t even know your own sin if it bit you on the back of the leg.

“You know what?” he continued.  “You’re so compromised you don’t even need a Devil.”  He heaved a heavy sigh and turned to walk away.   “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you don’t need a Tempter.”  He called back over his shoulder.  “You need a Savior.”

With that, I jolted awake.  The clock said 11:45am.

I crawled out of bed, feeling hungry.  What was that crazy dream I was having?

It was all fading away now.

Something about Nachos.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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“COME AT ME!”

 

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I had a strange dream, night before last.

I was standing in my house, looking towards the guest bedroom down at the end of the hall.

The light was off, and I could just see the shadow of a chair in there. But there was something else.

Something evil.

I knew something was in that room.  Something invisible and dangerous.

And it was about to spring.

As this invisible evil thing rushed at me, I did the most surprising thing.

I planted my feet, stood my ground, and yelled, “COME AT ME! COME AT ME!”

And it did.

It was like 1000 volts of evil rushing through my body.  There was no avoiding it.

But I faced it head on.

And then Jan was shaking me awake.

I had called out “COME AT ME!” in my sleep.

You know, after you have a nightmare, that weird creeping feeling you get where you’re too scared to move, kind of frozen in place?

I didn’t feel that.

I woke up feeling an adrenaline rush.  I felt triumphant!

I had stared evil in the face, and lived to tell about it.

. . .

There are 11 times in the book of Deuteronomy that some version of the following phrase is uttered:

So you shall purge the evil from your midst”

Apparently, purging evil was a big deal back then.

Unfortunately, purging evil involved stoning people to death for things like being a stubborn son or committing adultery.

Hardly what we would call “hanging offenses”.

Our definition of evil might be different from folks back then, but I believe evil exists.

Most of the time, when I’m aware of evil, it’s been caused by human sinfulness.  Things like racism or poverty.

I don’t personally believe in a red horned, pitchfork-carrying guy named Satan, but I do believe that evil can take on a life and power of its own.

How have you encountered evil?

A person or group spewing hate?   Your own twisted thoughts?  A chaotic world?  A sudden, intense, negative feeling or emotion?

I’ve certainly experienced each of those.

Most of the time, when I catch a whiff of evil, I run away as fast as I can, like a kid running up the stairs from the scary basement.

Or, I’ll pretend like it doesn’t exist.  Do my best to put it out of my mind.  Focus on more wholesome thoughts.

. . .

But maybe there’s some value from standing to face evil head on.

To stare evil right in the eye and say,

“DO YOUR BEST, EVIL.  I’M NOT BUDGING.”

Now don’t get me wrong.  It will probably hurt like hell.

An encounter with evil can shake you to your roots.

But you are a child of God.

A child of Grace.

The same Grace that turned Jesus’ defeat into victory,

His crucifixion into resurrection.

. . .

Grace can purge evil in your life, too,

especially when you’re willing to face your demons head on.

We give evil more power when we turn in fear, or let it fester and mutate.

Try doing what Jesus did.

He never turned away.  Not even on the cross.

He held his arms out,

and stared evil in the eyes,

and I bet he even shouted,

“COME AT ME!”

 

Have a triumphant week,

 

Mitch

 

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