I was reading in the Washington Post about a man who very publicly destroyed his life. He went from a rising star in the political arena- a presidential candidate, to facing facing felony charges of covering up his infidelity with campaign donations. The story is quite tragic. The man lost his wife to cancer, his son to a car accident, his dignity to indiscretion and now he sits alone. There is a photo slideshow with the article that chronicles the ups and downs and it makes me wonder how much he would have paid to travel forward in time to see those pictures before all those events transpired. What would any man give to tour his slaughterhouse backwards?
Imagine the fear and panic that would ensue if the farmers brought their livestock in through the exit doors of the slaughter house. They would see the ripped open carcasses, the blood on the floor, and the smell of death hanging in the air. It wouldn't work. When they come in the proper entrance to the cow it seems like just another routine check up. They have no reason to be alarmed and the end comes without thought.
In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis says this, "The safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." We make compromises, we do things our own way, and all the while we put on our campaign smiles trying to convince those around us, or more likely- ourselves, that everything is fine. The truth is Satan doesn't care if in the end he gets you to have an affair that explodes violently in your face or if you're just one of the checked out men in society that has no use for God or the family that you were so preciously gifted with. Both of those outcomes and an array in between bring him equal delight. So what's a man to do to stay far away from the slaughterhouse doors?
King David found himself asking the same question. Here's what Scripture tells us:
- Guard your heart with the word of God. Read Psalm 119. Let the word penetrate your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Make scripture reading a part of your life.
- Pray like it matters. Pray against Satan's attacks (Matthew 6:13) and pray that the Lord increase your desire for him and his heart (Psalm 119:32)
- Prepare yourself for a fight. Ephesians 6:10-20; 1 Peter 5:8-11
- Make time for introspection. Romans 12:2
- Invest in friendships that strengthen you with men that will undoubtedly fight alongside you in your dark hours. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
I regularly thank God that he's a better savior than I am a sinner. So regardless of what mistakes are a part of your story, Jesus offers the grace to forget what is behind us and pick up on that narrow road that leads to him. It takes some humility to admit you've more closely resembled livestock than intelligent human being but I can't help but picture Jesus grinning as he called himself the Good Shepherd. He knows our tendencies and hasn't left us to our own devices to get it right. Never forget that he's the one shaping your heart and the process is much less painful when we go along with the work he's trying to do.
Take a stand in your life in the areas that need to be pruned before they become pathways to bigger problems. Let God shape you into the man that your family needs you to be- one that leaves a legacy of faith and shows the world just how beautiful or savior is.
*Before you think I'm more thoughtful than I actually am, the cow killing analogy came from a book titled: Temped and Tried by Russell Moore about the temptation of Jesus in the desert.
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