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Coloring the post-partum blues: Joining Jesus in the work He's doing

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Mark 1:12-13
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

It's not always darkest before the dawn. Take today, for example. The sun poured over the eastern horizon, the sky brightened ... and then the clouds got heavy, they got gray, and the freezing rain came first in tiny bits and soon in great pouring draughts. The papers I was delivering were nice and cozy in their orange bags, but I got soaked.

And take one of the biggest days of Jesus' life, for example. The Holy Spirit descends like a dove and baptizes him wholly, and then ... "at once" he was overwhelmed by the devil. Like Nebuchadnezzar he was driven into the desert, accompanied by his Father, who gave him strength and wisdom and the perseverance to outlast and outwit overpower his Enemy.

All of us are tempted by Satan after being touched by God. Even after we have our finest day with the Holy Spirit Satan, the weak one, does his best to steal the glory. He camouflages himself to look like the Holy Spirit, but his only purpose is confusion and convincing us to hurt each other, to hurt ourselves, to turn from God.

Too much we cooperate with him. I've been on both sides of this ugly drama. If I listen to God but don't take enough time to listen to my friend, we can both get ripped off. Thinking I am certain of what God wants me to say, I'll tell someone what's wrong with them, and maybe that they're being attacked by the devil.

But the evidence is circumstantial. They aren't acting like I think they should be acting. They don't exhibit the gifts of the Spirit like I am used to seeing them shown. Their fruit isn't the fruit of the Holy Spirit as I expect it to look.

And my eyes aren't clear like God's eyes. Only occasionally do I see clearly; usually I'm right there with Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, seeing but poor reflections as in a mirror. Seeing others in the image of myself rather than listening and watching for their uniqueness, their being, God-in-them.

When I hear myself defining someone's "problem" in terms of my "solution," our relationship is in trouble. We're no longer peers and fellow strugglers; I'm one-up. And when my words drive them into the desert, it's not likely they'll welcome my company in doing battle with Satan. It'll just be them and God.

Course that's not all bad. Jesus set the standard for withstanding rejection and suffering without catching the awful contagions of self-righteousness or self-pity.

But nowhere does it say we can't accompany each other on these lonely desert walks. Spurring one another on (Hebrews 12) surely includes holding one another up (Galatians 6).

Lord, let my words be yours and not my own. And open my ears and my eyes to those around me. Break off any graven images that cloud my seeing us the way You see us, Lord. We are snowflakes in your sight, none of us alone, none of us the same, all of us so dependent on you and able, when we follow you, to bless each other.

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