The devil studies us. He learns our fleshly desires, what entices us and what trips us up. He is crafty and conniving. And greatest of all, he is patient. His patience and intellect are what enables him to trap so many. The greatest hunters study their prey and track them down. The greatest fishers sit and wait with bait ready to reel them in. The devil does all of these things.
The enemy doesn’t wait for us to stumble upon him. No. He studies us to see where we like to go and what we like to do and just when we go to those places and do those things. Then he meets us there. He doesn’t move quickly because then we’d be on to him. No, he lies in wait. He enters conversation with us as he did with Eve in Genesis, plants seeds in our minds…he sparks our interests and gets us going on our own tangent. His goal is to plant the seed and allow our own flesh to water it and reap the detriment of it.
I’ll give a small example of how the devil has gotten me to play myself time and time again.
I strive to be consistent in my prayer life and to study (not just read but study) the Word daily. I aim to not get on any social media until after 10am (being that I normally wake up around 7am). This allows me to ensure that I stay focused on God when starting my day. I also try to not read text messages or reply to people unless it is absolutely necessary.
I’ll be good with this for a while. I’ll feel full of the Word and be in great spirits. My days will be bright and lovely, radiating with the love of Christ. Then one day, when I think I’m in a good place, the devil shows up.
For instance, the beginning of this year, I was on it all January. I’d spend time with God THEN handle work, ministry and business. However, when February came around, I started having a lot of stuff to get together for Sowfull and Sowfull Apparel as well as some other tasks. So, some mornings, I’d wake up and before I can even grab my Bible, the enemy will be like, “shouldn’t you just go ahead and make that quick phone call at 8am when they open so you won’t have to wait on hold for a representative when they get busy later?” It sounded good, and it made sense, so I followed along with it. But see, that’s the thing—in the moment, a lot of times we may not even recognize that it’s enemy talking to us because he talks to us like he’s us. (That’s why it is soooo important to be full of Christ and in tune with His Spirit so you can discern these things.) All of the devil’s ideas won’t necessarily come across as terrible or sinful ideas. They will many times seem harmless, but the intentions/missions behind them are deadly. They look harmless in attempts to slow walk you to something harmful.
“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”
Proverbs 14:12 NLT
Calling the business really quick and then spending time with God didn’t seem all together bad because “getting it out of the way now will also enable you to focus better on Christ when reading. You don’t have to have this in the back of your head rushing your time with God.”
God would whisper, “it can wait”. But my mind had already taken the seed and began watering it.
Then one day God reminded me that your to do list will never be empty. If you wait until there’s nothing you need to get done to be able to sit down and focus on and spend time with God, it’ll never happen. This goes back to what we spoke on last month in Workaholic, Where’s Your Rest?
We think, “let me do this first so I can really focus on God”, but that’s how the enemy get’s us everytime!! Jesus stepped away to spend time with God regardless of who else or what else demanded His attention and we need so the same.
How the enemy got me was, this one phone call led to another phone call which then had me stressing and needing to run out to handle something else. By then, it’s 10am so I figure I can go ahead and check my phone to see who has contacted me and is waiting to hear back from me. Then it’s time to go to work. Before I realize it, taking care of one thing on my to do list caused me to get everything done EXCEPT the most important thing—spending time with my Father.
“While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.””
Luke 10:38-42 HCSB
I’d get back on it and try to discipline my mind and my time to be centered around God again and I would wake up and decide to read a daily plan on the Bible app before studying the Word myself. The devotional would be soooo timely and encouraging. Because I love sharing encouragement I just feel the need to share it on my IG story and forward it to those in other group chats. Now I’m up on Instagram scrolling or caught up texting people back in group chats when really, it could’ve waited. I didn’t have to share the encouragement in that moment. Before I realize it, it’s time for work and another morning has been deprived of time with God.
“See the devil, he learns from your mistakes, even if you don’t, that’s how he keeps you in cycles.” – Jonathan McReynolds
When we miss one day of putting God first and it leads to the next day and the next day, it creates a cycle that we keep ourselves trapped in. The devil no longer has to come and plant ideas for how to distract us from God, we will do it ourselves. That was me. And in my mind, I kept thinking, I need to fast and refocus. But I’d never get to doing it. Then my church put out a fast for March and my flesh thought for a split second, “okay we can just start getting back focused studying the Word then”, but my spirit quickly shot back, “why wait? We didn’t want to wait to make that phone call. We didn’t want to wait to text that person back. We didn’t want to wait to post on social media. So why do we want to wait now??”
That Tuesday morning, for some reason I just felt the need to check my emails really quick. Then I thought, “while I’m here, I might as well delete these 88 unnecessary emails”. Mid-swipe to delete an email, God said, “look at the bigger picture.” It would go from deleting emails, to tapping on emails to,learn what they’re about, to sharing the info with some friends. I’d get caught up in a conversation which I know would lead me to doing something else. I stopped mid-swipe and closed the app because I now see the bigger picture. It can wait.
Not only can all of these little things wait, but God shouldn’t have to. The Creator of time shouldn’t have to wait until we “make time” for Him. We don’t put God on hold so that we don’t have to be on hold with someone later. We don’t ask God to wait to speak to us so that we can try to encourage someone else. We don’t make God wait for our full attention so that we can pay attention to emails and notifications.
IT. CAN. WAIT.
See the bigger picture. These little things lead to other little things and the whole point is to distract us from God.
God is first and foremost. He gets the first of our fruits: love, time, money, attention, EVERYTHING. When it comes to God, everything AND everyone else can wait.
“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.”
Luke 10:39 NLT
“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.””
Luke 10:41-42 NLT
As you go through your day and people and things tempt to distract you from Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit whispering, “it can wait”.
PS- I’d like to share this as well:
There’d be days I thought I had disciplined myself well because I would be studying the Word but then while studying a great blog post would come to mind. The blog post idea is wonderful but the problem came in when I’d stop my devotion time to work on a blog post that could’ve waited. God said, “just because it’s ministry doesn’t mean that it can’t be an idol.” I felt I was okay because I was doing “Kingdom work” but in the process I was neglecting time with my King.
If your Kingdom work is taking place of or imposing on your personal time with the King, you’re committing idolatry. It can wait.
It. Can. Wait.