Life Imitating Art in a Hodgepodge

I am, very admittedly, stepping in to waters that are over my head this morning. When I have a thought, regardless of how well conceived, I write. Sometimes those thoughts aren’t big enough to take up an entire 1,000 word post. Sometimes – a lot of times – I’m not smart enough to research the thought and I just flesh out the thought through the process of writing in the predawn darkness of Friday morning. The resulting post, as you may well be used to by now, is usually a hodgepodge. Nevertheless….

There was a time, at least in the South, when we would blame things on Satan. There’s is no one reading this who is over the age of 40 and grew up below the Mason-Dixon Line who hasn’t heard – or probably used – the phrase “the devil made me do it!” If you did something mean in the 1970s and your mom asked you why in the world you did it, “the devil made me do it” seemed a valid reason.

Of course, James 1:14 tells us that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (NIV). My “own evil desire”. It’s mine. It’s in my sinful nature, not developed or placed in me by Satan, but there by my own doing – my own choosing.

That’s not really where I was going, though. My point is that we don’t hear “the devil made me do it” much any more. It’s fallen out of our excuse bucket. On one hand, that’s good as we learn that we do have control over our thoughts and actions. On the other hand, it reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies, The Usual Suspects. In one of the film’s last lines, as Verbal Kint is walking down the sidewalk and his limp turns to a flawless stride, he says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

Perhaps its a fruit of the effort since the 1970s to remove God from our public – that is, schools, courts, government offices, parades at CHRISTMAS for crying out loud – lives that we’ve also removed the truth that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10 NIV). We don’t acknowledge that Satan is out there, in the busyness of our days and in the worldly images of what a person has to do and be in order to be considered a success, or attractive, or even happy. He’s there in what’s being billed as a happy, normal family – and if your family doesn’t match that illusion, then you are a failure as person and a parent and generations to come will surely suffer the shame.

I just want to remind you today that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. This idea that if you’re not busy, then you are “less than” is a lie. The commercial definition of a successful person, an attractive person, a happy family –  it is wrong. You don’t need $15,000 in credit card debt to prove your worth. I know that it’s hard to believe, but we are about 11 weeks from Christmas. You don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your home so that every game and toy and latest gadget is under the tree for your kids. You can be a good parent without buying out Toys ‘R Us and the Apple Store.

This is the point where, had I thought out the idea beforehand, I could challenge you to do something against the grain like, instead of donating used clothes, let’s all go buy a new outfit and donate that instead. Or, for every dollar we spend on our own family at Christmas this year, let’s commit to spending the same amount on an Angel Tree family, or a Toys for Tots family. OHH, what If we spent MORE on an Angel Tree family than we spent on our own family this year?

Alas, I didn’t think that far ahead, so I leave it to you.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. There’s freedom in that verse. Go enjoy it today.

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