I remember the moment I realized that I wasn’t really a Christian. I was in my car, listening to Hank III’s “Long Hauls and Close Calls”, and was singing along, when I realized what I was singing: “The devil is my friend, the devil is my friend, the devil is my friend” Now Mr Williams the 3rd has the right to call whomever he likes his friend, and I’m not condemning him for that, but I certainly was not the devil’s friend. Or was I?
This was a culmination of quite a few events that sparked a deeper examination of my life, which also coincided with my first visit to a church in, well, a long, long time. I’ve since come to know the Christian life as a very “co-incidental” life, where so many things guided along by our Creator just seem to “work together”. There’s even a verse for it!
There were some dark things I needed to deal with and fast. Habits, relationships, ways of living and thinking. My life was actually a total mess and it was beginning to take its toll on me and those I loved. Through some more “coincidences” I read a book by AW Tozer called “The Pursuit of God”, and connected with a few amazing Christ followers who allowed me to participate in their community, called Mosaiek. God was drawing me to Him fast and hard and for the first time in my life I could see clearly enough to follow after Him. My baptism marked the total and complete commitment I had to leading a life free of bondage from that day forward.
What still shocks me to this day is how I cruised through almost 20 years thinking what I was doing was okay. Who I was, was okay. Now that past life sickens me. How did I get so lost? How did I go from Anglican Catechism, and Sunday School teacher to singing that my worst enemy was my friend? How did I not SEE it? The answer, I discovered, was the gradual nature of the deceit. Of the falling. Of the enslavement.
There’s a Casting Crowns song called “Slow Fade” which alludes to this problem. Simply put, one just needs to deviate by a single degree to end up way off course. Ask any navigator. One degree at the start, makes for hundreds of kilometers at the end. I remember in school we were taught that cold blooded creatures like frogs cannot easily sense temperature changes, but they can sense major ones. So if you drop it into hot water it will try to jump out, but if you start him off in cold water, and gradually increase the temperature, poor Kermit is none the wiser and you could actually boil him. Not that we did.
So firstly, I was enticed into the world (and I followed willingly, just to be clear) one degree at a time. One little indulgence or sin at a time. And then, looking back over 20 years of my life, I see the destruction and pain the cumulative effect of the deviation had caused.
Secondly, I found out that distraction was enough. The enemy didn’t need me worshiping him. I didn’t need to be an axe murderer to be an effective tool in the enemy’s hands. All I needed to do was, well, nothing. If I’d only seen Jesus’ words on this issue earlier! You don’t even need to be a Christ Follower to know the saying that evil flourishes when good men do nothing.
I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different had I realized these two truths earlier. Then I remember the verse again, and I am stunned by our God’s awesome grace and love. That He kept drawing me to Him despite the worst efforts of the world to keep me a slave to sin and strife. God is good.