Last Saturday morning I was hanging up the kids’ towels which had been strewn on the floor, when my daughter walked into the bathroom with a red plastic cup full of murky water.
“Whatchya got in there?”
“What kind of stuff?”
She gave me a coy smile.
“Don’t laugh. It’s water with a lot of salt in it. I’m trying something.”
“Hmm. A science experiment?”
I left her alone and not too long after heard murmurings of some sort. So when I was doing her hair for a dance performance that afternoon, I asked her about it.
“Oh, well. It was nothing. But I might try it again.”
“I heard you talking. What were you saying?”
She got very quiet and as I studied her reflection in the mirror, I could tell she wasn’t sure what to say.
“Did that stuff happen to be some kind of potion?” I asked.
Her eyes darted around peevishly and she suddenly burst out, “Yes! But it didn’t work!”
I knew where she’d gotten the idea. We’ve been having a wonderful time reading Harry Potter together, and who wouldn’t? Fantasy is fun. But that’s what it is – fantasy.
“Well, of course not!” I said. “And you know this – we don’t believe in that kind of thing. We trust God. And only God. He has the power. Not potions, or lucky charms, or horoscopes. None of that stuff. The Lord is the ONLY one we rely on.”
“I know. But I just wanted to try it.”
I smiled at her.
“I understand. But it doesn’t work. That’s what you found out.”
“Yes. But can I try it again?”
“If you want. But I know you’ll get the same result.”
She gave a resigned shrug. And dismissed the idea.
I know how she felt. In third grade a boy gave me a rabbit’s foot dyed blue for “good luck.” It was soft. And creepy. And my parents told me the same thing I told my daughter. “You can keep it. But it has no power. It’s just an animal’s foot on a keychain.” But I wondered. And kept it in a box. Until one day I let go of thinking it could “do” anything for me, and threw it away.
Our desire to control is deeply ingrained. We want to have a leg (or foot) up on our circumstances. And the idea that we ourselves can conjure some sort of power, predict or influence the future, is very tantalizing. This lie is exactly the one the serpent told to Eve in the garden. “God well knows that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know…” (Genesis 3:5) (emphasis mine).
This somewhat latent desire is most often expressed in subtle ways. I have heard countless adults over the years make statements like, “I didn’t want to say anything, for fear of jinxing the situation,” or “Cross your fingers for me.” I’m guilty of this too. We might say we’re just voicing these things in jest, but more than time half the time, we wonder if there isn’t a possibility that we actually are affecting people, places, or things.
Our words reflect what’s going on in our hearts and minds, and we must be very, very careful. The reality is – in and of ourselves we are powerless, and we can easily be led astray from the Truth by human-created fictions. God is far bigger and more powerful than anything we could imagine, and He doesn’t want us messing around in the serpent’s muck. Scripture is clear on this in multiple places. Here are just two:
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
So how do we fight this? How do we check ourselves?
I start by filling myself up with the Word, which is a sword in the battle against the world’s influences. Grafting the words of Scripture onto my heart gives me strength and confidence to stop the ideas that run counter to God. I particularly love this verse:
We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ…
-2 Corinthians: 4-5
Arresting every thought before it becomes a spoken word is a first step toward changing our ways.
Yes, we want to be like God – to have the power of God. But that power comes only through our acceptance of His perfection as proven by the ultimate gift – the sacrificial self-giving love of His Son, Jesus. And with His power – which we’re given with the promise of His eternal help, presence, love and salvation – we can live in the only way that will satisfy us. His power in us conquers the crafty deception of the world.
What more could we possibly ask for?