It’s a new year. I have been praying about 2018 for months now. Asking God for the vision, the word, the rest of the plan, really just anything to help me gain insight for the path 2018 will take me through. He’s been pretty silent on that. I thought I would have it by News Years Eve. (I laugh in spite of myself. Does God shake His head when we give Him deadlines?) New Years Day came and went. Everyone is sharing their “word” for 2018. I am seeing them everywhere and feeling a little let down. So I prayed, and asked God for some direction. I feel stuck, Lord. I got no reply. So, on January 11th as I got up early for my quiet time I thought well…maybe I am distracted, unfocused. So that morning I spent some time with the Lord, and I realized I was distracted by my pursuit of this “vision”.
I didn’t really feel inadequate because I did not have some grand “motto” for 2018. Honestly, I just like to have direction. I have some goals for this year and I really want to make sure I stay on track. I flipped through my prayer journal and found a quote from St. Padre Pio I has jotted down quite a while back.
“The devil is like a rabid dog tied to a chain; beyond the length of the chain he cannot seize anyone. And you: Keep at a distance. If you approach too near, you let yourself be caught. Remember that the devil has only one door by which to enter the soul: the will.”
I read it about three times and then I realized that I had found what God was speaking to me months ago… again. Have you ever had to learn a lesson over again? This usually happens because we didn’t learn the first time, or the second, (and thank God He is long suffering) even the third time. God is patient, and gracious, and full of mercy. But the truth is when we get stuck, when we are like the Israelites, wandering, complaining, it is because we have our eyes on something besides the Lord. So, could it be that the reason I could not really get a clear vision for 2018 is because I have a few things I need to work on?
Most of us, given a choice would never get too close to a rabid dog. Most of us, don’t even like to think we would intentionally get too close to sin. But, let me tell you something, we get about as close as we possibly can without getting bit. Then, when sin snaps at us, perhaps even takes a bite, we stand wounded, bleeding, and blame the rabid dog. I think this happens a lot with invisible sin. The ugly things deep within that others cannot see, bitterness, envy, terrible attitudes and all those other icky things we can cover up. (most of the time)
When we began to justify these things we are getting way too close to the dog on the chain. We make excuses. We say it’s the dog’s fault.
I made this declaration almost 2 weeks ago that this year I would not be blaming things on the devil. I have almost done it 2 or 3 times, but I have stopped myself. Yes, I still pray against his interferences, but I refuse to acknowledge every setback and every little thing that goes wrong as an opportunity to blame the enemy. I have stepped back and I am closing the door on that for 2018. The truth is that I have the choice as to whether or not I “take the bait” every single time. I am trying to stay focused on the fact that anything that makes it to me needs divine permission from my Heavenly Father, so maybe, no definitely-if I find myself in the midst of something that is trying to hinder me; it might be a good idea to remember that fact. So, instead of blaming the enemy and using it as a crutch to not search my own heart, I am going to search my own heart first, and see, if there is something I need to learn.
When we continually shift blame for everything to the enemy of our soul, he wins. If you are blaming the devil you certainly are not being accountable for your own shortcomings and this is a very dangerous place to trod. No, I don’t always blame the enemy for everything. And yes, sometimes it is completely an attack from the enemy. But that is not always the case. I frequently ask God to help me “clean out my closet” of junk and shortcomings. But I believe that some of that stuff gets pushed way back in the back and we just don’t deal with some of the things we need to deal with. Maybe it’s your attitude, maybe it’s your circumstances, maybe it’s just easier to say, “it’s the devil”, than admit it is you.
And yes…I certainly have been through this before, but it would appear that I didn’t really learn everything He wanted me to learn. So here’s to 2018 and here’s to a 2019 post that doesn’t have me learning this lesson again. So, good Lord willing at the end of this year I can ask myself “What did you learn”? And the answer will be, “exactly what He needed me to learn”.