Saturday dawned, another hot day. Could this truly be rainy season? It hasn’t rained now for five days and when it does rain it is very little. Today, I am empty again. I get filled up and then my well runs dry. Why? I feel so weak, so tired, so unhappy, fragile. Why the ups and downs? I yearn for rain. God please send down rain on my soul.
But I'm not giving in. I'll keep going. I want to keep following God wherever he chooses to lead me. I know anything else will ultimately lead to disappointment. Seeking the easy way out is just a mirage, a shadow strategically placed by the enemy to distract from what’s really there.
This morning, as I was in the bathroom feeling rather ill, I had this thought about how pathetic I must look. At that moment I felt gross, sweaty, weak, and tired. I suddenly became conscious of my fragility, my limitations, my weakness. I wondered if this is how Satan sees me; of no value, just an ugly, smelly mortal that he wants to destroy. He can’t even begin to understand why God loves us so much, why he’s reached out his hand to the weak, the poor, and the simple. Perhaps that is why we bring such glory to God as believers in the body of Christ, weak as we are, yet bonding together in unity, pressing forward to accomplish the impossible through the power of his Spirit within us. Demons and Angels alike hover above our world watching us, studying us, marveling at us. There is a whole realm of spiritual beings that we cannot see, though at times we can feel them. The demons are trying to destroy us and our walk with God, the Angels are protecting and watching over us, yet God has chosen the simple things of this world to confuse the wise, and to confound the enemy. (1Cor.1:27) It’s part of His amazing plan, and when looked at as a whole it is incredible.
God's Word tells us God chose to create people, not because he had to or because he needed the fellowship, but because he wanted his masterpiece, human beings, to have a relationship with him. After God made Adam and Eve he proved this by walking and talking with them in the garden during the cool hours of the day. Satan watched from afar, seething with anger. How could God form such fragile human beings out of dirt of all things, and then bring His presence before them, walking and talking with them? How could he desire such an intimate relationship with them? He saw how precious they were to God and decided to take a shot at God’s heart. He began to weave a web of deceit and lies that he hoped would destroy God’s cherished creation and break God’s relationship with people forever. Yet, in the midst of his plot, the all-knowing, all-seeing God took a step back and watched as he let Adam and Eve make a choice. God didn't create people to be machines, he doesn’t want their actions to be mechanical, cold and hard, pre-calculated without heart or love. No, God wants our hearts, all of us. So on that fateful day when Adam and Eve stood under the Tree of Good and Evil, fingering the fruit, listening to the serpent, toying with sin; God sat back, watched and waited. He saw His children fall. They felt the effects of sin, the guilt and the shame, separation from God, and in their pride they tried to fix it all with leaves thrown together in an attempt to mask their vulnerability before God. But then the most incredible thing happened. A holy, perfect God came down to walk as usual in the cool of the day with his creation. He knew what they had done, and still he pursued them. He found them hiding from Him, shivering with fear. Then he gave them a chance to come clean about what they had done, but instead they accused each other, choosing to blame their environment rather than ask for forgiveness. God listened to their excuses, and then explained to them the consequences their act would bring upon all of their offspring. They must have been overwhelmed by the heaviness of what God was saying, but even in the midst of such despair God gave them a small ray of hope. He gave them their first glimpse into a rescue plan that had already been set into motion (Gen 3:15). It would be something that even the spirit beings in heaven would ponder over (1 Peter. 1:12). Then the reality of their consequences began to set in. They were sent out of the garden, the only place that they had ever known, into a foreign world full of the effects of sin: tears, pain, sweat, and toil. Satan smiled.
But God didn’t just forget about Adam and Eve and their offspring. That's not like him. Even after their sin, God continued to relentlessly pursue them. He spoke to Cain and Abel when they came before him with their sacrifices, showing them what was required to cover their sins. To see Abel communing with God must have irritated Satan, as we know it irritated Cain. Satan did his best to destroy God’s plan early on, using Cain to murder Abel, and then using his descendents to infest the earth with evil. But Satan could never quench God’s love for his creation. From Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, God began to call out a people that would once again walk in relationship with him. It was never perfect, not quite like it had been in the beginning, but still God tirelessly pursued the hearts of men. He told them to build a temple, a place of holiness, where a righteous God could meet with his people. He gave them specific directions on how to offer sacrifices to him. He told them to choose the best and spotless out of their flocks of bulls, sheep and goats and to bring them to the temple where the animal’s blood would be shed. He did this so his children would not easily forget the huge cost of sin and their continual need for Him. He wanted them to know that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Heb. 9:22). So day by day, week by week, year after year, the blood was spilled. But was this it? Was God’s plan complete? God was able to come and sit amongst his children in the temple, but could he walk with them? Could he talk with them? No. Instead, inside the temple there was a thick curtain that separated him from his children. Cleary, the blood sacrifices of animals could not fix the separation between man and God. But God was just setting the stage for what would come next.
And it started when a brilliant angel showed up one day to tell an average teenage girl that she would give birth to a baby boy who would "save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). This child would be born fully God, coming from God, possessing his nature, yet he would also be fully man, subject to the limitations of a human body. From the place Jesus was born, an old earthy animal stable, to the people he chose to teach and spend his time with, he did things differently than one might expect of someone with his credentials. He stretched out his hand to the poor, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the sinners. He held small simple children on his lap and He had a way of capturing people’s hearts. It baffled the religious leaders of that time but most of all it baffled Satan and enraged him that again a Holy God was reaching out to ugly, sweaty, dirty human beings. But this time it was all too close for comfort. God was once again walking and talking with people. The gap between people and God was in danger of being bridged. But could he have foreseen what would come next? Could he have even guessed? As he saw Jesus giving people freedom and hope he tried harder to destroy him. He reverted back to a proven method, he used humanity's pride to get to Jesus. Just as Adam was to proud to admit his failure in the garden, just as Cain was to proud to fess up to his mistakes, the religious leaders were to proud to let Jesus live and continue to challenge their authority. Satan used them, and had Jesus hung on a cross amidst two common theives. At that moment, with the crowds jeering and the soldiers laughing, Satan probably howled in victory. His plan to destroy God’s most cherished creation and to destroy any way of salvation from sin was complete, or so he must have thought. But then, as Jesus cried out to his Father, the skies darkened and the earth was shaken from its very foundation. The thick heavy curtain in the temple which had separated people from God was torn in two. Suddenly, Satan’s shrieks of glee were silenced. This curtain was not torn by human hands, but by God himself. Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave as a conqueror, victorious over sin and death. Now the chasm between people and God was bridged by Jesus Christ himself. Where the blood of goats, sheep and bulls had shown the need for the shedding of blood for the covering of sin, it could never fully bring restoration in our relationship with God. Rather, God himself came down to live on earth, and to live perfectly amongst us as he himself became the spotless lamb that would die once and for all. He would take each person’s sin on himself. His blood would become the permanent covering for the sins of us all. Now, God was satisfied. God had come down to live with people, and he had saved them himself because there was no other way. He is relentless in pursuing our hearts.
Though the core of God’s great plan is complete, Satan has not lain over in defeat. He is in a race against time to destroy as many people he can both spiritually and physically before Jesus comes again to take all those who belong to him. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He enslaves God’s beautiful creation with addiction to drugs and other harmful substances. He traps men and women in false systems of belief, he laughs as hundreds of thousands of girls and women are sold as sex slaves, and it’s under his watch that orphans and widows are preyed upon. And when a soul is wrenched from his terrible grasp and delivered into the arms of the Savior, he howls with furry. He hates to see men, women, and children begin to once again walk uninhibited in unity with their creator. As God actively pursues people, a spiritual battle is raging in a realm that none of us can see. By using his old tricks the enemy puts doubts in our minds. Once he tries to get us to listen so he can steal our joy, our freedom, and take away our unity with God. But as we are in his Word, God slowly brings our thoughts and beliefs about the world around us into alignment with his heart. It is the channel through which the we are encouraged and strengthened from day to day in a world which is often against God. But if Satan succeeds in making us so busy that we either forget or have no desire for God’s Word and prayer, then he has effectively broken down our defenses and can have his way with us. His goal? To cause chaos and disunity within families, marriages, churches, and countries. His mission is still to separate people from an intimate relationship with God. But when we choose to make time with God, to beg him for a desire, yes, even a craving to read his Word and pray, then Satan trembles. When people are engaged in a relationship with their creator miracles begin to happen, lives are transformed, families walk in unity, but most importantly, God is glorified and Satan is thwarted. The angels watch as weak, simple, earthly, finite human beings walk hand in hand with a Holy God and they wonder in awe at his mighty plan and power.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.