GOD & SATAN.
SO . . .
Have you ever done something stupid like I did this one time?:
It’s 2004. Setting: Summer in southern Utah. Characters: Myself, my college roommate/friend, and my boyfriend.
– “I’m bored and tired of doing the same thing all the time. I heard there’s a wicked sweet waterfall that we can hike to about an hour away from here, wanna go?”
– “How hard is it?”
– “Easy. Or so I’ve heard.”
– “Cool. Let’s go.”
Fast forward a car trip and a little way into our fairly easy hike.
– “Did any of you think to bring water? Or chapstick?”
– “That wasn’t smart of us.” laughs
Fast forward further into our hike and add southern utah heat setting in big time.
– “Oh man. I’m dying! My lips are on fire and my mouth is so dry.”
Fast forward further into our hike with heat exhaustion setting in and running into fellow hikers on their return.
– “Hey, how much further is it to the waterfall?”
– “Not too much.”
– “Is it really cool?”
Fast forward to us pressing through our heat exhaustion, not at the waterfall yet, but reaching a pool of water coming from the waterfall.
– “Guys I’m just going to put this water in my mouth and swish it around and spit it back out. I won’t swallow it. My mouth is so dry it feels like I’m gagging on 3 handfuls of cotton balls and I can’t swallow air properly.”
Yes. I did that. Swished that cloudy water like it was the best thing to happen to me in my entire life. (Can’t remember if my friends did it with me? Forgive the “mom brain” I now own.)
Fast forward to us bailing on going to the top, forgoing reaching our desired destination, in favor of survival mode kicking in. MUST. GET. WATER.
Fast forward to our 2nd wind kicking in and hiking back to our car much faster than we went up because again- MUST. GET. WATER. was quite the motivator.
Somebody remembered that there was a gas station right off the exit where the hike was. Dreams of Dasani were in full swing and getting more real with each footstep.
Fast forward to pulling into that gas station, heading straight to the drink fridges and paying top dollar for that crystal clear treasure.
WATER was had. And chapstick was bought.
Fast forward to today. 11.5 years later (and married to that boyfriend now!) I realize that there’s an important lesson to be found in this life experience.
You see, I don’t like water that much. In fact, my dislike of it has landed me in the E.R. with kidney stinking STONES not once but TWICE because I seriously forget to drink it. Anyway, the point is, water is good for us. But there’s other substances to drink that keep us feeling hydrated.
SATAN DOESN’T LIKE TO LET US FEEL HUNGRY OR THIRSTY. But make no mistake about it, he intends to starve us.
On the contrary:
GOD ALLOWS US FEEL HUNGRY AND THIRSTY. But make no mistake about it, He intends to feed us.
When I go to the gas station for a drink run, I’m not likely to spend my dollars on something I can get for free (water). No way. I’m going to get a hot chocolate if it’s cold out, or chocolate milk if it’s not particularly hot or cold, or either pink grapefruit soda or lemonade if it’s hot out. I know water is best for me, but I’m not usually willing to spend money on it like I am one of those other delicious choices. Unless of course I’ve just decided to go on a hike in 100+ F without a water bottle.
WHY IS THAT?
I mean. Have you ever sipped down rich, velvety, smooth hot chocolate that seems to warm every last inch of you on a particularly biting cold day? Well then, that’s why. That is why.
But what happens over time? Calories reach my waistline, and I end up in the E.R.
w r i t h i n g in pain. (If you are a fellow kidney stone sufferer, I feel you. I wish I could give you a hug through this screen.) If anybody in that E.R. had offered me that same desired cup of cocoa, I most likely would have thrown it back at them. I wanted “Sonic ice”. Bad. Something to distract me from my pain and something good for my body.
There are substitutes to keep us from recognizing the needs we have which aren’t being met.
There are false doctrines that claim ‘God is a wish-granting factory, that you can live your “desire maps” via petitioning God.’ Others that say ‘He’s not there at all and you’re better off without the crutch of a God who tells you what is good for you.’
There are pain-suppressors, there are reality-dulling substances, there are reality-enhancing substances, there are lusts being gratified, security to be carnally lulled into…
Sure, those are as desirable as that ice cold sparkling drink on a blistering hot day. I get it. It’s our velvety cup of cocoa in frigid temperatures. It’s a feel good experience that fakes the real, actually good for you, experience. It robs you. It cheats you.
Any guesses as to what would have happened if I tried to offer my body a sugary liquid after it was petitioning for water on that hike over a decade ago? It would have seen through the gimmicks. It would have seen through the deception. SODA IS NOT WATER!! Just because soda is liquid which takes away the extreme dryness in my mouth, all liquid is not the same!
BACK OFF SATAN. YES, your ways are smooth. YES your substitutes are enviable, craved, and deeply desired. But I know they meet a bitter end. I know that hot chocolate won’t cure my kidney stones or help as I’m dealing with the pain. I know I’ll be on your floor, writhing in pain of the choices I made by falling for your nasty comforts, and you will be laughing. Laughing. Rejoicing. Laughing. While you watch me starve. While you watch me suffer the consequences of living a life where I altered God to serve me, or altered my perception of absolute truth to deny Him altogether. Laughing.
Is it any wonder that we have been commanded to fast? To be reminded via hunger pains that we need to seek food that is healthy and sustaining? Is it any wonder that Christ has been referred to as, and has referred to himself as “Living Water? The Bread of Life?” Is it any wonder that those two items are also what we partake of in the ordinance of the sacrament each week? He gave His life to help us seek for and KNOW the difference between truth and all the deceptive, silently destroying substitutes for truth. He offers us the real deal. REAL happiness. LASTING peace. Ponder that. Know what’s being offered to you. Feel the hunger & thirst for righteousness!
“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
-Jesus, our Savior, our brother, the Christ, our advocate with the Father.
I see you there, Satan. Standing poised on my hottest of hot days, my coldest of cold days, acting like the friend who is there for me in my day of need, offering me the most decadent and comforting of drinks.
But that’s not all I can see. IF I look beyond you and your ‘offerings’, I can see something else. I see God. Waiting at a well of everlasting water with a quiet offer to “Follow Him”. I see Him now. I can choose Him, so I do. I sit and partake of His offering. And you know what He does? He doesn’t laugh. He gets on His hands and knees and washes my feet.
No, it’s not easy. To follow Him, I have to do more than just refuse desirable substitutes, I must learn to wash feet and offer water as He does. I might get mocked for choosing to offer my friends water over the fancy drinks, and I might be spit on while attempting to wash feet. But I’m not taking substitutes. Not today. It’s worth every sacrifice.