Indian Summer has fallen on the Golden Plains, providing brilliant blue as the backdrop for the vibrant colors of fall, warm daytime temperatures and a decided lack of winter's chill through the overnight hours.
What a glorious time of year. According to the weather forecast, it's almost over. In fact, it may already be only a memory by the time this column goes to press. I'm determined to enjoy it for as long as it lasts, though. It is, bar none, my favorite time of year, Indian Summer, my favorite season. Perhaps it was Indian Summer when the Lord God saw that it was "very good," in Genesis 1:31.
The farther we get from the Garden, the worse off we are, collectively and individually.
I'm sure the idea didn't originate with me, nevertheless, I remain convinced that rather than evolving, as some would have us believe, mankind continues to devolve.
The theme song for "Big Bang Theory" really cracks me up. Actually, I find the entire program a delightful escape from reality and pure pleasure as the nerds poke some good-natured fun at themselves. I always try to make it to the TV in time for the theme song, performed by Barenaked Ladies (off-camera, thankfully). The lyrics detail man's alleged emergence from primordial ooze, and includes the phrase "We built a wall -- we built the pyramids!" That's where I lose it. That's man's claim to fame? A wall and the pyramids? Quite an accomplishment considering the tools of the day, I admit, and all but impossible without expending the life energy, and the lives, of countless slaves, but OK, if you want to celebrate the pyramids and the Great Wall of China, go ahead. Last time I checked, both were falling into disrepair.
Industrial and technological advances in the late 19th century and throughout the entire 20th century have certainly made our lives easier, particularly in the industrialized nations of the world. I have been grateful all summer long that someone figured out refrigeration - both to preserve food and, especially through this torrid summer, my sanity. In spite of our best efforts, however, too many peoples languish in poverty, too many die of starvation, too many are given no consideration whatsoever, by policy makers, despots, even "civilized" governments.
Evidence of man's devolution grows with every 24-hour news cycle. In fact, man's inhumanity to man is becoming so commonplace, most cases only make the news ticker scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen. There simply isn't time enough or manpower enough to bring the full story to the full screen: Children abused, then murdered; Violent death instead of divorce and apparently, the more casualties the better, as evidenced by the recent salon shooting; fraud and theft amounting to millions of dollars, yet few ever seem to go to jail, fewer still required to compensate their victims.
The farther we get from the Garden...
I fear Satan could go on an extended vacation tomorrow, taking his minions with him, yet the rate of our descent into ever deepening darkness would still continue to increase.
However man's end comes, whenever man's end comes, it will follow Satan's dark path. We've wandered far from the garden. We continue to wander aimlessly,, in a labyrinth of distortion, deception, even delusion -- created by innumerable trails that all end at dead-ends, though each intersects the only true path back to the garden.
These things I have learned:
God will not spare the flesh if it means sacrificing the soul. That being said, he will never see any man suffer loss, in whatever form the loss takes, without purpose equal to the pain.
The enemy, on the other hand, relishes each snap of the whip. Gleefully he torments man with promises of pleasure, pleasure that inevitably ends with pain.
Be warned, for I have also learned that the enemy, who alas will never willingly leave such ripe fields, will only stop when he himself, and his minions, are bound with chains forged from the links of the chains he wrapped around the souls of man, chains of distortion, deception, even delusion. And if he sees that the heart of a man seeks a turnabout that he may be freed from those chains, he redoubles his efforts to distort and deceive, even bringing delusions upon that man. He has a mighty arsenal of temptations tailored to each man's weakness. (Such comfort is mine to know that greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4)
Furthermore, whenever a man' s path approaches an intersection, perhaps the only intersection his life path makes with the one true path, the distortions, the lies, the delusions all intensify. Although God longs to see man turn from wickedness to be healed by him and is not far from any man (Acts 17:27), the only time the enemy takes notice of a man is when the man yearns to leave wickedness behind. Those who continue to walk life's path blindly are the enemy's by default and require no special considerations. Only when that man is faced with the question "Who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:20; Matthew 16:15; Mark 8:29) does the destroyer of souls seek to break in, to steal and to destroy.
There is a way home, a way back to the Garden, from ancient days forward. He was there at the beginning, when God saw that it was "very good." And he is here today. He will not waste the pain.
"This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'" Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know and love the One who does. Let's walk in his love and discover him together.