"Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."
The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life."Job 2:4-6
That letter from the attorney, the one hired by our church’s insurance company, is unsettling. I can’t give them what they want.
I don’t blame them. They want to recoup as much of their money as they can. But I cannot help them. I haven’t any assets. Do they want my ‘84 Honda? Do they want my ‘78 Ford van? Those won’t go far in recovering over 2 million dollars.
Jeremiah has a good heart. He has been through a lot. He has been beaten and starved and abused. He has been through war and death and shoved from one home to the next. And like all of us, he sometimes listens to the Whisperer who seeks to keep us in the dark, as far from the Lord as possible. Those are the real reasons our church burned.
I’m his dad. I will do what is right. I will take responsibility for my failures, my lack of supervision of this young man with the 46 IQ. But I cannot pay the money they seek.
We had a solemn assembly at our church last Sunday night. It was a time for us to corporately examine our failures to each other, to our community, to our Lord. I told our congregation I repent of the harm I may have caused any of them by not closely watching what my son was doing that night, when he found himself alone with a candle and a lighter.
And they forgave me.
The elders and our pastors already gave me their forgiveness. They even helped us pay for the counseling and the fire safety steps we had to take (and continue to take).
Sunday night was a step in making things right with those who were affected by the displacement of classes and programs in our church. It was an act of repentance for any hurts we had caused the body.
He doesn’t like that sort of thing.
A couple of months ago I tossed him out of my home. He landed in the street, cursing (of course), and has been prowling around the edges of my life ever since. He is a tiger of ancient anger. He doesn’t like what I’ve been up to.
I walked throughout my home, praying over every corner of every room, every door, every window, inside and out. I claimed freedom from all darkness in His name around the foundation of the house and along the peaks of every roof. I prayed over every corner of the property, sprinkling oil over it all.
In Jeremiah’s room there was a moment when I got the heebie jeebies. There was a knocking in the wall. As if someone was inside the wall, knocking slowly. I prayed. It faltered, stopped.
A few weeks later Jeremiah said he saw something dark looking in his window. Isaac complained of bad dreams. I bought another large bottle of olive oil. My sons and I prayed around the house again, along the property lines.
But he doesn’t give up.
The sores on my skin have never been worse. The itching is constant. The rashes are turning to scars. The splits come every few weeks, opening up the fingers of my hands. I leave small spots of blood here and there, little patches of the swirls and whorls of fingerprints marked with tiny slices where I have sprung small leaks. My hair is starting to come out again.
He doesn’t give up.
My wife is tense. She is getting better. I started praying over her each night, but the letter from our church's insurance company’s attorney set her back.
He doesn’t quit.
My sons are better, I anoint them with oil each night. But strange stresses are hitting them from odd directions. Yesterday was a bad day for Jeremiah.
He doesn’t stop.
I started painting images of spiritual import, praying more, writing words encouraging others to follow my Lord. And doubts creep into my heart about my health, my mortality.
He just doesn’t stop.
And neither does He.
I have a powerful ally. I have a big brother who loves me so much He came into the world to rescue me from him. I have a friend who loves me more than I love myself. I have a master who is gentle and asks no more than I fulfill what I was created to be. I have a Lord who is ancient, and wise, and the embodiment of love. And in His name I have something to say to him:
You can’t have us! We belong not only to our maker, the Lord God Almighty, we belong to your maker.
My son is covered! He is mine. He is His! He is dedicated to Jesus and you can’t have him!
My home is sanctified. I have taken what was not glorifying my Lord and tossed it out, jettisoned it! Go with it!
Prowl around as much as you like, but you are not getting in!
I don’t like the idea that you are powerful, and ancient, and knowledgeable. But you are not all powerful. You are a made thing, just as I am. And you may be knowledgeable, but you are not wise. You have cursed what cannot be cursed, and it cost you everything.
You may be the prince of this world. You may whisper and taunt and afflict, but for me and my family, we will follow the Lord.
Father, Lord, Holy spirit... I lay all I have, all I desire, all of who I am, at Your feet. I know it is safe in Your keeping. Amen.