Little Ways

He was slick and I was young. He was offering me “a great deal” and it was only a 12 month contract. I was young and naive and I signed. It was too expensing; it was a lousy deal, and it was an annual contract that automatically renewed! And I was snookered! It took me months to finally extricate myself from this “great deal!”

But that’s the nature of deception. Deception hides all the downside and exaggerates the benefits. Deception is inherently selfish, self-serving, and malicious. Deception treats the other as a “thing” to be exploited for one’s own benefit. Deception is the very nature of evil.

No wonder the first deceiver was found in the Garden with two very young creatures who weren’t ready for what their Creator had ALWAYS intended to give them! And no wonder, when confronted with this deceiver, they failed to trust Him Who had never done them anything but good. They were young and naive and the deceiver, instead of how he presented himself to them as someone who was both slandering and accusing their Creator and only trying to “help” them, was actually intent on their destruction as a way to hurt his, and their, Creator. Evil, pure Evil.

One rabbit trail (forgive me): Evil is not a “thing” It is the absence of a thing; just like darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat. But make no mistake, nothing is a very powerful force!

You see, it was ALWAYS the intent of the Creator to give His creatures all He possessed. He ALWAYS intended to give Adam and Eve the very thing the deceiver was lying to them and telling them God was withholding something important from them. Of course He was withholding this from them at this time. They weren’t ready for it. They were too young. They had not developed the kind of relationship with Him and each other to be able to handle this gift. And they proved as much after their falling into the deceiver’s trap by blaming each other and even blaming the God Who made them! They weren’t ready. God had ALWAYS intended to tell them everything, but, as a good and loving Parent, He knew that they needed to develop, grow in relationship, experience, and love, before they would be able to embrace this growing relationship well and grow up into the original intent of their Creator: to join Him in His loving community of Himself – the Holy Trinity!

Just look at today’s Gospel Lesson: The Lord said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Luke 12:32-40 (Yes, I know, it’s the same as yesterday’s but what wisdom the Church shows by giving this powerful passage to us two days in a row! Wisdom! Let us attend!)

“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” With this, the Lord Jesus reveals an amazing gift and lays down an equally terrifying opportunity. The gift is plain. The Father wishes, and has ALWAYS (notice this consistent emphasis) intended, to give you EVERYTHING He has. His humility, generosity, and love are boundless. He has ALWAYS intended to share with you everything He is and has. He has NEVER wished to withhold anything from you. The lie told our first parents is the same, tired, lie we fall prey to today. That lie says “God is not good.” “God is holding back.” “God just wants you to be subservient to Him.” “God doesn’t exist.” Lies, all lies. And lies with one intent: steal from you and wage war against God by destroying the objects of His love. God has been slandered and lied about. It is God’s “good pleasure” to give you all He has. Of course there is one exception (HA! The Catch!): He is uncreated and we are created. That is a gulf that will never be crossed, and yet God’s eternal Life will work backwards AND forwards in your life, filling all your past with His grace and love and extending your true life forever by filling you with Himself!

And here is the terrible opportunity. God’s love for you is so profound and complete that He will not violate your free participation or lack of participation in His life. You “can” foolishly continue to be deceived. You can continue to be enslaved to the lie. You don’t have to participate in His life if you choose not to. BUT, you will also never escape the reality of His continual love and life. And rejecting His love and, out of your freedom, choosing to make yourself a slave to the lie, you will be forever tormented by your own foolishness! That’s why they call it “hell.”

Today, are you free from the subtle lies of the deceiver? Does your life reflect your growing maturity in your relationship with God and all around you? It can. All the spiritual “medicine” meant to heal every aspect of your life is here and available to you for the taking. All you have to do is exercise your will to embrace your Father’s good pleasure and all He has is yours! This means that not one tear is wasted. Not one challenge or hardship is ever empty of joy or potential to shape you as His disciple. Your life is full of wonder and joy and all it takes is being Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. Do you know someone who may enjoy or benefit from these devotionals? Would you share them with someone today?

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