I bombed out Friday night. One beer turned into several and I acted like a total moron. I spent the weekend frustrated and defeated. On the way home from the office, I stopped by the bookstore to just sort of lose myself in some books. Perhaps it's my version of cable TV. You've seen those huge coffee table picture books that are always on sale at bookstores, right? Well, I spent an hour in this book about lions. Lions are such beautiful creatures.
God suddenly spoke to me through the pages of lions. This photograph of a lion eating a gazelle started to move. The lion spat the gazelle's liver out of his mouth and then started talking to me right there from page 67. ACID TRIP. Just kidding.
A verse hit me like a sumo man hits the Chinese buffet (err, Japanese buffet. Whatever.) Check it:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." 1 Peter 5:8-9
Woahhhhh. Isn't God so clever? He knew I was down in the dumps. God used the random book about lions to speak to me. It blew me away.
Satan wants to gobble you up. Me, too. Yes, it's true that I'm going to heaven and Satan can't mess with my salvation. However, he sure can depress, discourage, and tempt me into doing stuff that nullifies my witness and destroys my character. What does Peter tell us to do? BE SOBER! Although Peter is referring to the idea of being careful and watching out, it also applies to my example of drinking too much on Friday night.
Peter doesn't say to run away or freak out. He advises us to RESIST. James agrees: "resist the devil and he will flee from you." How do we resist? Paul talks about spiritual armor. There are spiritual defenses as well as spiritual weapons. The entire body is covered and protected except for the back. Why? Because we aren't meant to freak out and run away.
You've heard the roar. Really, you have. The roar can be absolutely intimidating and deafening.
"Roarrrrr, you suck. Roarrrrr, you're a failure. Roarrrr, you blew it again. Roarrrrr, stop fooling yourself. You're nobody. God can't use you. Give it up…"
Do you hear that roar and get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because it rings true? Do you get discouraged and start giving in to the temptation? Maybe you just throw the towel in and stop fighting. Simply ignoring the reality of the temptation or trying not to think about it will only lead to defeat. However, if we battle by going directly to the Father in prayer every time there is a roar of intimidation and temptation, we'll be turning the enemy's weapon back on him. What will happen? That roaring lion will realize that his teeth have been kicked out!! According to James, he'll take off with his tail between his legs. How did Jesus fight his temptation? He fired right back with Scripture. So, too, you and I can use the same tactic. It's true that the lions often attack the sick gazelles and zebra that are hanging out on the outskirts. Stay spiritually healthy by eating the Word everyday and living in the center of the pack. Surround yourself regularly with likeminded believers that will encourage you and pray for you. Keep your "sword" sharp by meditating on the Scriptures. Talk to the Father in the heat of the battle which will strengthen your shield of faith. If you're just chillin and doing your own thing alone, the lion will sneak up and devour you – he'll devour your day, chomp on your mood, and rip on your character.
Be sober. Watch out! Be careful. Resist. Fight! Be steadfast in the faith! When you do, when I do, that toothless bully will run away like the old wimp that he is.