Conversations with my son Ben often lead to greater spiritual understanding. I can’t remember exactly why we were discussing sin but when he stated that ultimately sin is not confined to certain behaviors we want to stop, rather it is the failure to unite with God, it made me stop and think. Those compulsive vices would be squelched if we were one with God in that same moment. It made sense. It freed me from focusing on the things I want to stop that do not please God and gave me a different outlook. Pay attention to when you are no longer thinking about God.
I’ve been working on that for quite some time now. It’s not the first time I yearned for the grace that Brother Lawrence describes in “Practicing the Presence of God.” I have been more aware of it again since the conversation with my son.
There’s a reason I must work against a lot of interference between myself and God. The reason has a name. Revelation 12:9 tells me that the great dragon, ancient serpent, devil or satan is constantly distracting me from connecting heart, mind and soul to my Abba-Father, Daddy-God. Here’s the verse: “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Being led astray is easy. My husband and I are both missing the map gene and even with the help of googlemaps we are often going the wrong way. It takes both of us paying a lot of attention and using deductive reasoning to get to our destination. Neither of us is always right. I have found my instinct is to choose the opposite direction of which I need to go. Somehow, we make it to our destination eventually.
One of the ways we can find our way to our destination is to learn to doubt ourselves. We often stop after a few moments of going the way we think we should and consider whether it is truly the right path. It’s also helpful in staying connected to God. We need to accept that we are not capable of staying connected without God’s help. We need to doubt our own ability.
Another way we have learned to keep ourselves from going astray physically is to make note of major landmarks so we can find our way home. My husband can be sure that a certain street is correct but if I notice a major stature that I didn’t see before, I call for that time to stop and think. The church Father’s set the bells as “landmarks for prayers.” They rang five times a day for the five hours of prayer. You can use hours of the day or events as a time to recollect your heart to God.
That ancient serpent has only his time on earth to spy on us. He studies us and often uses the same trick to lead us astray—whether that is bitterness, greed, lust, etc. It’s also helpful to recognize when you are falling for satan’s repetitive traps. Something I use when I am fighting bitterness and unforgiveness towards a person is to pray the Prayer of Jabez every time I think of how mad I am. I pray: “Bless so-in-so, keep them from harm and keep so-in-so from harming others. Increase their territory and bring them peace. Amen.” I can’t tell you how or exactly why but after doing this for a while, I simply stop thinking about how they did me wrong and I’m set free from being led astray through bitterness.
My lifetime is a journey to the heart of God, and I wish I would stop taking sidetracks that lead me astray, but the important thing is to note who is behind them and let it push me ever forward into connecting to the heart of God and living my best life on earth.