March 11, 2009
When I lived in Quito, Ecuador as a teenager, we would make a trip once or twice a year from the 10,000 ft. elevation down to sea level, to spend vacation on the beach. I distinctly recall this huge rock sculpture on the side of a cliff that was an eerie interpretation of the devils face. For some reason it came to mind a few days ago. The message listed under the face is "El Poder Brutal" translated, "The Brutal Power". That phrase has stuck with me over the years. Folklore suggested that the sculptor had a conversation with the devil and in one day, carved his face in the rock. I found some interesting information on Wikipedia (the Spanish version) and discovered that the sculpture had been created by a local Public Work driver and self-taught artist. I never really knew the real motive behind this piece of art but according to the Wiki article, the artist's intentions were not only to show the face of the devil, but to also remind us of our own inner demons. Regardless of motives, this sculpture was always an eerie sight as the road down to the sea was extremely curvy and dangerous in many places. One wrong turn, and the car would plunge hundreds or thousands of feet off the road. There were spots, such as where this sculpture was, that would almost always be covered in a thick layer of mist. Combining the precarious roads, the mist, and the Brutal Power is enough to get you thinking twice about your life.
There are two lessons that I'm learning lately. The first is not to underestimate the power of our enemy. Jesus gave us the warning that our enemy has a three-fold plan to wipe out life on the earth. Those strategies are to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10 says: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Should it surprise us that we are being attacked, or at least plundered, especially if we are stepping out in faith to trust God for a deeper work in our lives, for a time of renewing, for spiritual growth, for endurance, or for any other good thing that spurs us closer to Christ? The devil isn't only trying to annihilate each of us, but he's in the business of treacherous thievery. He may not need to steal our very lives if he can get away with stealing something far more potent; our faith, our joy, and our love. When our hearts are set towards growing in these three areas, we should more than expect the opposition towards each. What good is faith if it's stolen? What good is joy if it's killed? What good is love if it's destroyed?
Be encouraged that we were not promised destruction, but life. The second part of this verse in John gives each of us great hope; "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
Pursue abundant living and know that your pursuit will cause the enemy to rise up against you. The second lesson I've been learning is that it is not just an outward, spiritual enemy in the devil and his cohorts that love to fight against our spiritual progress. There is also the inward, less obvious but equally formidable foe, our flesh. The flesh is made up of all those areas in our lives that do not submit to God's will. Selfishness, pride, greed, lust, etc. etc. that war against the freedom of Christ in us. (Galatians 5: 16-18)
I have two foes that hate any progress I may be making in my walk towards greater dependency on Christ. So do each of you. Don't be shocked, or caught of guard, that the road isn't proving to be easy as you take steps in faith to trust God for the impossible. Remember that, just like sheep, you only have two basic instructions: listen and follow.
Listen and follow, allow God control of the rest.
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:22-30)