I was out shoveling snow when Satan walked by on the sidewalk on the other side of the street.
Some of you don’t believe in the Devil. I wonder if that’s because you think of the red-skinned, horned and pointy-tailed creature that was made up for late night, fireside stories. I think that’s kind of fun but I don’t think Satan comes that way.
Today, he was in shape and voice of an old woman, calling out across the street, “There’s more coming!” with just an edge of delight. “What?” I asked, thinking who would do such a thing to a man who was just starting to shovel out a driveway filled about 10 inches deep with snow. “Did you hear they said, ‘More is coming!” She held her hands close, against her dark clothes and gathering the edges of a long dark shawl. She scurried off acting as if she was just a neighbor, watching where she was going and sharing the news, but I recognized her.
Some of you don’t believe in the Devil but I do. Who else, in the midst of what could feel like a Sisyphean winter, would wander the street sowing discouragement? The greatest weapon of evil is separation and how better to do that than to tell one their work is worthless. How better to create division between a good spirit in a person and the people they will deal with the rest of the day? We hear this voice and it could put us in such a foul mood that we treat all those who we see as if they don’t matter, as if our efforts won’t make a difference and neither will theirs, like all is tedium and despair.
I recognized you today and I remembered to listen to the other voice. The voice of the one who created me that said, you teach yourself your worth in your work. You remind your soul that you participate in the nature of life with the other creatures and you have reasons to do the work you do. You have one you love who needs to use the car. She’ll need to get out and you’re clearing the way. She came out and worked alongside you clearing the walkway for your neighbors so they could move freely, easily, without slipping. You have a reason for your work that makes it satisfying.
I recognized you today, you fallen angel and I remember how you showed up once in Americus, Georgia at Koinonia Farm where Clarence Jordan was hoeing his field. Do you remember that? You sent some thugs to burn down every building and to riddle Clarence’s house with bullets because he had started a community there of people of different races. Then you wandered over in the shape of a reporter, calling out, “I heard the awful news… that the farm was closing.” And then you added, “You got two of them Ph.D’s and you been at this farm for fourteen years… and there’s nothing left at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?”
Do you remember old Clarence and his words that day? Staring at you from the field and saying, “What we’re about here is not success. It’s faithfulness.” And how he went back to hoeing. Now, I’m no Clarence Jordan. I’m just some guy living in the city, but I share the same intent. So, whether it is shoveling snow or digging through theology to figure out how best to understand the workings of the world and trying to help people understand that… I’ll just keep going. So just get on your way, Satan… Go off to those who don’t believe in you. Maybe they’ll listen when you tell them how they’re worthless, but you got nothing I need.
You see, I live with this beautiful woman who always makes me stop and look when she walks into a room, and who greets me when I come in from work like this and tells me I’m amazing and she lets me stay with her. And I’ve got this glorious Friend who never forgets me, always receives me and gave up everything I call everything so that I could find life. And, I can tell you Life is pretty full.