My garage door broke a couple of days ago – the spring split in two, the door panels buckled and jammed against the rail, the cable fell off. It was not pretty. And to make matters worse, it happened at 7am as my wife and I were trying to get to work. Our cars were stuck in the garage and try as we might we could not get the door open. At first I was just in a panicked attempt at getting the door open. Then I started getting mad at the stupid door – like it was at fault. Why me? Why today? I don’t want to spend the money to buy a new door. I was frustrated. But then that is when the thought gets implanted in my head – the whisper of a little lie. “God is doing this to you. If He loved you He wouldn’t let this happen.” Then I found myself getting mad at God. Wait! Where did THAT come from? Oh, I know.
Now I realize that a garage door disaster is not really a big deal. There are others who are facing much more serious situations than my garage door. But the principle is the same. The enemy will take any opportunity to tempt us into abandoning or, at least, questioning God. Jesus faced much the same situation when he was in the wilderness. Here is the story as told in the Gospel of Matthew.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
The devil has not changed his tactics in all these years. It seems to me that he tempts us to question God in three areas just like he did to Jesus. First, the devil tries to make us question the Father’s provision. “Make your own bread Jesus, the Father is not giving you what you need.” That one is so easy to fall into. That is my garage door scenario. We begin to question God’s goodness. We start to think that we need to figure things out for ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves. Does He really care? Yes, of course He does, but He that doesn’t mean we get whatever we want. We get what He determines we need…when we need it. Jesus refocuses the question. It isn’t about the “stuff” in our lives; it’s about listening and responding to our Father’s words of love.
Second, the devil causes us to question God’s promises for our lives. “Can He really be trusted? Is He going to come through for you when you need Him most?” The devil calls into question God’s character and tries to drive a wedge between us and Him. Jesus’ response is really simple. In essence, He says, “I will not question God, but will trust Him to do what He says.” In Jesus’ case it took another three years to see the fullness of God’s promises work out. In our lives it may take longer. It doesn’t matter. He always does what is right for us.
Finally, the devil attacks the most basic relationship in our life. He causes us to question the Father’s authority in our lives. The devil wanted Jesus to take control of His own life, independent of the Father. “You can run your own life. Put yourself first,” he whispered. But Jesus got it right when He responsed to the devil. Worshiping the Father is our most basic purpose as humans, it puts us in the right attitude before Him. We need to remember that there is a God and we are not Him.
You see, what my garage door taught me is that our Father will provide what we need; He will keep His promises; He is worthy of our worship. As long as we remember that – as long as we stay connect to Christ and keep our relationship with Him straight – the devil will have no place in our life. Oh, by the way, I’m ordering a new garage door.