One morning, getting ready for work, I thought about how good I was feeling lately about signing up for a 15K and before I could blink, a voice in my head said, You will never be able to run as fast as you want. Why do you keep trying?
Instead of letting that idea slip into my consciousness, I caught the tail end of it. I held onto it, trying to bring it into focus so that I could see it, and see where it had come from. Oh my gosh, I said to myself. That thought must have come from Satan.
If you pray and wait for God to speak to you, or through you, you’re opening yourself up to receive God’s word. When you open yourself, it’s hard to keep the channels focused on only receiving God’s messages. You’re going to receive other messages.
Have you ever looked in the mirror, liked what you saw, and then you find something to criticize? Have you ever found yourself shouting at other drivers or pedestrians from the safety of your car? Have you ever looked at what a friend has and thought, how does she deserve that? Why don’t I have that? Are those thoughts coming from the Spirit within you? I don’t think so.
As I pondered Satan’s power, this idea struck me: If I’m having a hard time identifying the subtleties of the devil at work in me, how can I help my girls to identify it? How do I even begin to talk to them about it? The next day, I asked Jaiya about the devil in the car on the way home from school.
Me: Jaiya, do you ever remember talking about the devil?
J: …long pause… No, not that I can remember.
Me: Not just this year in youth group, but anytime in the past in Godly Play?
J: No, I can’t remember a time we talked about Satan specifically.
Me: Is there a Bible story that you can remember with the devil in it?
J: Hmm… vaguely… you mean like the story of Adam and Eve?
We went on to talk about feelings of envy and jealousy that she had felt earlier that day. She was amazed to think about her feelings in the context of the devil; I could see it on her face and hear it in her voice. I suspect the conversation isn’t over yet.
We need to talk honestly about Satan with our children, and ourselves. Scripture offers an entrée into a conversation about Satan, and Lent offers a space for us to explore the concept of temptation and other negative behaviors. Reading and discussing Genesis, Job, or 2 Corinthians could generate lots of good conversation with a variety of ages. Perhaps during Lent, your family might study Matthew 4.
God works in us and through us, just as God works in and through others in our lives and in our world. We have to acknowledge that the devil does the same thing. Our children need our help to understand that part of our nature includes the ability to do the wrong thing and go against the life God wants for us.
The good news about sin is that we can confess and ask God to forgive us in the name of Jesus. As we move through Lent, let’s not be afraid to have challenging conversations about Satan and sin. Jesus is always waiting for us at the end.
Have you talked about Satan with children or teens? How do you see the devil at work in your life?