A vulture waiting on a rooftop during a recent walk….
I have a friend who has a lovely wife and a young child. The child is growing up away from his father because his father is in prison. He is separated from his family and in prison because he chose death instead of life, he chose the demon spirits in bourbon rather the the Holy Spirit, and because he continually believed he was stronger than he was, that he was more powerful than he was, that he was smarter than he was…he believed, whether he acknowledged it or not. And when I hear from him, it is like there is this sense of nobility, that he is on some sort of holy quest. Most of us alcoholics or other addicts can relate to this sense of the heroic — Satan, and I believe in Satan, is the Father of Lies, and addicts are so vulnerable to those whisperings in the ear that no one understands our quest, our true self, and we will be vindicated in the end. The Father of Lies.
Alcoholism is primary, progressive, chronic and fatal. If not dealt with as primary, it will end up as fatal — either in actual loss of life or the death of a family, the death of a dream, the legacy of a boy growing up with his father in prison and the secrets around that as he goes to school…I know something about that, and many of you reading this know something about it, too.
But it didn’t have to be that way. And it doesn’t have to be that way for anyone else.
Here is from the first chapter of James:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
There is no sin in being tempted. Being tempted can be a wake-up call. I am tempted by things my family and friends are not — my own desires. But when I entertain desires that can lead to upheaval, I can give them root. And when rooted and fed and nurtured, they gives way to sin and death. Death of a marriage, death of a relationship, death of a ministry, death of self…
But it does not need to be that way, for those who trust in Christ Jesus. In our baptismal vows we say we believe in the power Christ gives us to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” We have the power to say no, and not give in. We have the power, but some, like my friend, did not seek out that power. We have to want it!
Look at the vulture, on the housetop waiting.
Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5: 8-11)