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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I fell asleep at my desk

asleep-1296292_960_720I fell asleep at my desk.

Not for long.  Just a few seconds.

It was that wasteland time between 1 and 2pm, after a big lunch, after the caffeine had worn off.

My eyelids started to flutter, and then close, and then…maybe a minute had passed.  I just drifted off, into one of those lazy flights of escape.

Sounds like a guy who needs a nap, right? Well, there’s a problem with that.

I gave up naps for Lent.

It’s been hard!  No naps, except on Sundays.  On Sundays I get to sleep my guts out.  (Not till after church).

The rest of the week, I’m challenged to stay awake during the day.

I’ve always grabbed little naps here or there.  20 minutes before a meeting, 30 minutes before dinner, that kind of thing.

But lately, it seemed like my naps were getting longer.  I was using them as an escape from the busy real world. Instead of giving me energy, they seemed to be sapping it.

I decided that maybe I could give that time to God, instead.

Remember Jesus, in the Garden?

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  –Matthew 26:40-41

I want to stand watch with Jesus.  I want my spirit to be willing.

But, alas, my flesh has proven to be weak on a couple occasions this Lent.  Sitting in my living room, I’ve found the need to close my eyes, just for a couple minutes.  And here, at my desk, the day’s work just seems too much to handle.

I take my eye off the prize, and then Zzzzzzzzzz.

As vigilant as you and I long to be, we may be destined to fall asleep on the job, to lose our focus, to give into our weaknesses.  It’s bound to happen every once in a while.

But if Lent accomplishes anything, it reminds us that being a living sacrifice for God does not mean achieving perfection.

It means being willing to take up the cross, even if we’ll fall.

It means following faithfully the path of Christ, even if we’ll stray.

It means living with our eyes wide open…

Well, at least most of the time.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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