That’s how the enemy works and I see it in myself this evening…

I’m a few days behind in my Resting at the River’s Edge reading, and I read John 15 and 16 this morning. I so enjoyed John 15, especially, that I wanted to write a blog about it, but I was crunched for time and had to get to work. So all day I’ve been looking forward to this evening when I knew I’d have the house to myself and I could look at the passage more closely.

Somehow it’s not working. Since I sat down, I’ve struggled to stay focused.

First, I was having a hard time “centering” myself – letting go of the day’s distractions and focusing on the Lord. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply and sang a worship song to myself and the Lord. That helped a lot. (Or at least I thought so.)

I thought I’d read the final chapters of 2 Kings before writing the blog. Once I started reading, I found my mind flooded with one temptation after another. I was successful at fighting them off, more or less. (I promised myself that I’d succumb to one of them, but not until after I’d finished reading and writing.)

After most of the temptations subsided (they still try to sneak in), I suddenly find that I have a desire to do half a dozen different tasks that I usually hate doing. Of course, each one of them needs to be done because they’re tasks I always put off. It’s really frustrating that I actually WANT to do them now. Hey, if I’m really in the mood to clean my office now (for example), I ought to do it because I’m never in the mood to do that and I’ll accomplish more in less time and I’ll do a more thorough job, right? Somehow, I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now. This is the time give to me by God and set aside to read and study.

What in the world happened to the anticipation I’ve had all day about spending this time with the Lord? Aargh! Let’s see, first there was frantic brain, then there were various temptations, now there are these thoughts and desires to do long-needed tasks.

So finally I decide to sit back and think about how this just doesn’t seem to be working tonight and I realize that I’m being hit with a classic three-punch from the enemy – distraction, temptation and re-direction.

  • Distraction – When the enemy can bring confusion or a sense of franticness into my life, I am disabled for some period of time.
  • Temptation – I suppose I hardly need to say anything about temptation. We all know it and we probably all recognize it – at least in its blatant form. Temptation is when I want something I shouldn’t have.
  • Re-direction – Redirection may be a form of temptation in that I’m tempted to do something different, but it doesn’t involve anything that I shouldn’t do or have. Rather, it’s simply changing my focus from what’s best to something else that’s good.

Knowing how the enemy works helps us to thwart his plans. It allows us to recognize his hand at work and take action to avoid falling into the traps he is setting. Tonight was easy for me to recognize because it was so unrelenting. And eventually I realized that it was the Holy Spirit focusing my attention on the ways of the enemy for a short time.

That’s how the enemy tries to work (and sometimes succeeds) in my life. How about yours? Learning how he is most successful at sidetracking you will help you to beat him at his own game.

Remember, no matter what his ploy, “the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4b, NLT).

Now it’s back to John 15 for me. All this distraction makes me think that perhaps God has something really good for me tonight. If so, I’ll share it with you tomorrow!

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