The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Squirmin' in the Pew

“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” - Albert Einstein


Your whole body suddenly becomes hot. It starts in your toes and slowly makes its way up to your face. You feel like the whole room can see the heat hidden beneath your cheeks and the heartbeat that must be thudding for everyone to hear.

This, though it sounds like a scene from a nightmare, is actually the case when I am in a good Bible class. Maybe you re-read that last sentence. Ashton, you ask, how can your palms be sweaty and your heart be thudding in a pleasant situation? That sounds more like Ashton pre-rollercoaster ride or Ashton before a big performance.

It is because the Bible classes I hate the most are the ones I actually hold dear. When a teacher pushes me to the edge — when I feel like they are looking right through me, and I need to run out of the room and go to the bathroom to splash water on my face — that is when I know that God has placed me in that room and locked the door.

Today was one of those days.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't really want to go to Bible class today. I have to work in a few minutes, and I felt like coming home after worship and relaxing. Something in me, though, led me to my mother's ladies' class again. When the teacher, a sweet lady who chokes up when she talks about something near to her heart, began her lesson, I immediately looked for the door. She posed the question, "Where did Eve first go wrong?" I breathed a sigh of relief. 'Oh, we're just going to talk about Creation today. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.' I relaxed a little and prepared to discuss the story I had learned about since felt boards and sweet Mrs. Faye.

Then, she said: "When it comes to Satan and evil, dialogue is participating."

She went on to talk about how when we continue to converse with Satan and flirt with evil, we often feel like we are "struggling" and we are doing the right thing. After all, we have said no a thousand times. And we feel bad about it. And guilty. She cut me even deeper: "Satan doesn't really care what decision you make. The fact that you are sitting around dialoguing with him means he has already won." When you say no, you should turn your back on him and not continue the conversation further.

She related it to a girl — a hypothetical girl who I happen to see every day when I look in the mirror — who goes out with this guy on a date. He pressures her to do things she shouldn't and isn't uplifting spiritually in the least. The girl makes it clear that she will not do those things; she is a Christian girl after all and will only go so far. He lets the issue rest for a moment and then asks, "Do you want to go out with me tomorrow night?"

"Yes!" she gleefully replies.

This cycle continues endlessly and this dialogue eventually breaks her down.

That is how we are with Satan. We continually "go out" with him. We tell him no; we know what we should be doing, yet we can't seem to break all ties with his manipulation.

Without going into great detail, let me just say that this has been me lately. My constant "struggling" is me not fleeing from my chains. God has given me plenty of times to escape, but I still keep my temptation at an arm's length. It's like I can't let it go, but I find solace in the fact that I am struggling desperately to do the right thing. I make excuses for myself. Today's class made me realize that "I am lonely" and all my other excuses just aren't going to cut it anymore.

I am not exactly proud of some of the decisions I have made or the constant pity party I have been in over the past few months; I do need prayers for strength.

Dialogue is usually a good thing, and in most instances, it strengthens our relationships with people. I am done, however, with conversations with Satan and negotiations with God. I need to stop plea bargaining for what I want and justifying the wrong things I am tempted to do.

The conversation is over.

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