Good Tuesday morning! Everything seems to be going well, or at least tolerably well, but something is creeping up on you. Something in your environment that doesn't seem to bother at first, but later, maybe much later, you begin to notice that things are not as they should be. Happened to me yesterday in fact. The roofers arrived at the neighbor's house yesterday and the noise didn't seem to bother me until later in the evening when things were suddenly out of whack. The cat was trying to sleep in a place she never sleeps in, then both cats were up on the back of the couch, and a feeling of general twitchyness, to coin a word, seemed to come over all of us. I realized that after several hours of that hiss-whack sound, I was more than ready for the roofers to be done and move along. Of course this leads into the subject for this morning.
We often think that temptation is always this very bold frontal attack. We are going to see it coming. Our full armor of God will be up and ready; the shield of faith facing the enemy, and we have it all under control. However, two of the metaphors in the Bible speak of prowling (like a lion) and fiery darts. Of course we are all ready for that bold frontal attack, if that is all that is coming. But so often the temptation is a shot from the bushes behind us. The darts fly thick from the sides and from behind, and slowly some of them get through the armor. We are ready to duck the cannon ahead, but we miss the little dart from the rear quarter.
You are fully prepared to stand strong against the devil worshipper in the black leather suit with the big, silver skull on his chest, but here comes the philosopher with the Ph.D. in Religious Studies saying something that just sounds right. You want to agree and you know that you should check with the Bible first and the Holy Spirit is practically screaming, "That ain't quite right!", but the pressure is on and you want to look smart too! ...and suddenly it seems that the Devil is standing on your shield of faith laughing at you again as you lay there defeated by sin.
Our Lord has the victory, but we don't always win the small battles. Just when it all looks the very worst. Jesus himself arrives to pick you up. He tells the Devil, "Git!" and he goes. Jesus hands back you shield and then reminds you of the lesson learned. One time it might be to go to the Word first. Another time it might be to flee the temptation. Still another time the lesson might be to stand on God's Word that you already know. The war is won, but the battles can be hard on us. The lesson that we forget the most, might very well be the most important: call upon Jesus first. In the context of our metaphor that seems a rather strange tactic. The knight stands as the arrows of the demonic hordes begin to fly, but instead of gripping the shield and sword tighter... he kneels down?! Yes, in the military context that Paul often used our tactics may seem strange. Like Jesus on the cross, we may seem to surrender before the fight has even begun, but there is victory in Jesus!Have a wonderful day in Christ,