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Paul J. Bucknell
The alarm sounded very early Sunday morning on New Year’s Day, alerting me it was time to get up and get ready for church. I was speaking twice that morning and needed to get up even earlier to meet with the Lord and finalize the details for that day. That was fine. Everything was all ready to go, but something happened that almost derailed me.
I first noticed that I was starting to begrudge getting up early when others could sleep in longer. But that feeling was unusual, and so I caught the thought spawning those feelings, trying to interweave itself into my early morning thoughts.
“Why do you have to get up early?” The thought sounded innocent enough, looking as if it was merely asking for facts.
The question, in fact, was insinuating that it was unfair or not right for me to get up so early when everyone else can sleep in. I was about to accept this incredibly subtle thought in my mind, “Yea, why do I need to get up. That would be so unpleasant.” That was the moment I felt a begrudging spirit about me.
This was also the same time when I realized that this is not what I was originally pondering on. My attitude was starting to drastically shift to the negative. It was then that I fully realized that it was that thought which was trying to poison my mind and my day!
Thanks to the Lord, I recognized that thought was actually a temptation that was infiltrating my mind even when my head was still on the pillow and my body snug under the blankets. I might have just woken, but the evil one was devilishly alert and attempting (is this where the word temptation comes from?) to thwart my joy in serving the Lord. That begrudging feeling was already birthing a slew of depraved thoughts, leading me into a pit of despair.
“Yea, why do I have to…when nobody else….”
• Doubt of God’s good will
“It would be better just to stay in bed than to get up and serve God and others.”
“Doing anything but God’s will sounds good right now.”
“I’d rather be in bed than doing God’s will, but I dreadfully need to get up.”
As I almost indulged in that first temptation, those thoughts were ready to pour in as a flood washing over my mind, staining my mind, heart, and service. Fortunately, the Lord guarded me so that I could note that impulse and reject it.
In response to this attack, I “stood firm” (Eph 6:14) by releasing an army of ‘truth’ soldiers from God’s Word to combat the evil thoughts attempting to penetrate across the lines into my mind.
“I thank you for giving me the grace to get up early, readying myself to serve others just like Jesus did.”
“I am delighted how You choose to work through my feeble life. Only you can do that!”
“I am ready for what you planned for me today. I know your will is the best, and not just okay. My service today is what I choose to do because I delight in the way you prepare and use me.”
Burnout does not come alone from being tired but by a depressed companion adopting devil-inspired cranky attitudes spoiling our lives. Legalism rises from regularly focusing on one’s obligation to serve rather than the joy of serving with one’s whole heart. “O magnify the Lord with me…” (Ps 34:3).
That insidious temptation, as nasty as it was, suddenly disappeared when my head still remained comfortable on its pillow. My body didn’t move an inch during the raging of this spiritual battle. Now, I eagerly anticipated meeting with the Lord without those plaguing thoughts bothering my life and the service of the Lord which is always in every way supreme!
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