The devil uses the most normal things to try and distract us from the life-changing discovery of our yearning for the Eternal. Chapter three of Ecclesiastes describes the usual rhythm of life: the living and the dying, the planting and the harvesting, the healing and the dying, the fighting and the truce making, the weeping and laughing, and mourning and dancing. The devil tries to use the rituals and cycles of life to take our minds off of Eternity.
Yet most of the people I know have found their destiny in the middle of the muddle of life with all its distractions, while they are loving and hating, making war or peace, even while falling in love or out of it. The things with which the devil tries to distract us are never enough to stop the human spirit asking, “Where is it? What is it? Why is it? What on earth is eternity doing in my heart?” It must drive the devil to despair!
The devil is a master of illusion, confusion, and delusion. If he fails to keep your mind on a short leash and it gets to ponder the imponderable, and you begin to search with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength for answers to life, he panics! He has failed to make you believe you can be the master of your own destiny, determining how long you’ll live, the manner of your demise, and what you’ll do with the goods that accrue through your hard work, hoarding, or luck! He has miserably failed to make you believe “this is all there is”! It’s not so–and you know it! The fool has stopped being a fool and has become wise. Satan has lost his victim.
One day Jesus told a story about a farmer who became rich and indulgent and said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Jesus said the man was a fool because that very night his life would be demanded from him and all his hoarding would have done him no good–it would have been a waste of time. Worse, the man’s riches would probably be inherited by people who didn’t deserve them! Jesus was speaking a warning to “anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21, italics mine).
Ecclesiastes 8:8 tells us, “No one has power over the day of his death.” In other words, you can’t keep yourself alive! I was unaware of these Scriptures as I lay seriously ill in a hospital bed. I was all of eighteen years of age and it began to dawn on me that no one could figure out what was wrong with me. There was something wrong–that much was obvious! I had a temperature that wouldn’t come down to normal, a biting pain in my stomach, and I felt terrible. Thinking it was my appendix, they rid me of the offending organ only to find out the pain didn’t quit and the temperature didn’t drop. So they concluded it wasn’t that and consulted with more puzzled doctors.
I began to feel more and more out of control. My mind circled around a horrible thought that I didn’t know, my parents didn’t know, and the hospital didn’t know how to keep me alive. I began to panic. Eventually someone figured out I had a kidney problem, but in a day and age when kidneys were not available, transplants having not been imagined, and dialysis was not on the radar screen, this was not welcome news.
God used this outward circumstance to turn me “inward” to confront a soul that had been like the farmer making his own merry little plans to be thoroughly self-centered, self-indulgent, and self-satisfied. I had played the fool and I knew it. Having been forced in my extremity to look inward, I was then drawn to look upward to a God I somehow knew had been waiting in the shadows of my life to call me into a relationship that would stand me on my head–a relationship with Him. The options, although I did not know the biblical words to describe them, were, “This very night your life will be demanded from you” (Luke 12:20) or “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). There was no contest!
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