Thursday, March 01, 2012

Struggling with the Devil or Struggling with God

I read a great article this morning on Ethics Daily by Chuck Queen that shares the story of a young man who goes to live for the summer in a monastery in the mountains of Greece.  There's a famous old monk there named Father Makarios and Nikos, the young man, engages the monk in the following conversation:

One day, Nikos asked Father Makarios, "Do you still wrestle with the devil?"

Father Makarios said, "No. I used to wrestle with the devil all the time. But now I have grown old and tired, and the devil has grown old and tired with me. So I leave him alone and he leaves me alone."

Nikos asked, "Then life is easy now?"

Father Makarios responded, "Oh, no. Life is much harder now. For now I wrestle with God."

Nikos exclaimed, "You wrestle with God and hope to win?"

"No," said Father Makarios, "I wrestle with God and hope to lose."

There's a real sense in which this struggle with God is one in which we all participate, hopefully with the same desire to lose.  The yielding of our lives completely to His will and greater purpose for us is something we battle daily to achieve.  That anguished struggle is echoed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 with his confession that the good he wants to do he finds himself not doing, and the evil that he wishes to avoid he finds himself committing.  The only hope for victory in this arena lies in the daily surrender of our will, our desires, our time, our energy, and our actions to the control of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  When we do so, we can say together with Paul, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place" (2 Cor. 2:14).

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