In C.S. Lewis’s book “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” we find a boy named Peter entering Narnia. He has heard of this place from his sister who had been there before and now he finds that it indeed is real. The witch (or queen as she refers to herself) comes by in her sled and questions who he is, after realizing who he is she says to herself ‘but he is only one, and easily dealt with.’
She goes from demanding questions into a kind and caring form and begins to meet his needs. She first states (not asking) ‘my poor child, how cold you look, come and sit with me here on the sled and I will put my cloak around you and we will talk.’
Peter replies ‘yes your majesty’
And so begins her keen way of wooing him, she magically provides hot drink and asks him if it is good. She then moves on saying it is dull to drink without eating, and asks him what he would you like to eat.
Providing a large box (more than he could imagine), wrapped in ribbon and full of wonderful tasting Turkish delights, she begins her questioning of him to find out all she needs to know. Then promising him more if he brings his siblings to her she continues to appeal to him. He would become prince and eat Turkish delight every day, then become king and he would rule over his siblings. Asking for more Turkish delight he is denied until he returns with his siblings.
I’ve read this several times and always thought Peter was so naïve and believed in my heart I wouldn’t have fallen for any of that. And yet…. Well, we will get to that later. Now I want to look at the temptation of Jesus after His 40 day fast.
Then Satan appeared and said…. Here we go into the 3 things that the devil tempted him with, I wonder if the devil even said to himself ‘but he is alone and easily dealt with’.
The first is food – knowing Jesus had fasted for 40 days he appeals to his hunger, his physical needs. The devil uses scripture and yet Jesus, not being fooled by the letter of the law sees what so many Pharisees couldn’t see and uses scripture back revealing the Word of God with the heart of God. “Man shall not live on bread alone but by every Word of God.”
Secondly he is offered to become a ruler over all he could see. The devil was given rule over the earth and it was his to give. He appealed to the human need for acceptance and the greed of wanting to be in control, to rule, and to be worshiped (fame). But the cost was set very high, Jesus would have to betray His own Father and again Jesus chose scripture saying, “It is written that you shall worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.”
Last but not least, the devil takes another shot and goes to the heart of it – to tempt God. To question who He is and what He really said. If all of the mission and ministry of Christ is to be fulfilled then surely God must rescue Him from dying prior to the cross, or even dashing His foot on a stone. It’s an age old trick, the desire to question God and what He really said. Jesus knew all to well it is written NOT to tempt the LORD.
There are similar things found when Satan speaks with Eve. Appealing to her appetite for food, for wisdom to be a god or just like God, questioning God and what He had really said.
Back to Peter (the character in our story by C.S. Lewis) he fell for it. And as I wonder how and why I quickly notice a few things.
#1 – The witch is a woman, this is a familiar thing to Peter. It isn’t as if she showed up as a troll or a half bird half bear or some other creature. Peter is familiar with women, he is also familiar with being questioned by them. He has a mother, an older sister, he has had teachers and the housekeeper – in charge of his uncle’s home where he is now staying is even “in charge”. Coming across a woman who barks out questioning and demanding from him is nothing new, nothing unexpected. He would of course feel obligated to answer.
#2 – She nurtures and provides for his immediate physical needs. She pities him saying “oh poor child, how cold you look” warming him with her own cloak, drawing him near and magically causing him awe and wonder as she gives him hot drink. She then asks him “what would you like to eat” and gives him exactly what he had asked for in the grandest way.
#3 – After drawing out his story, for he is now her captive willing subject, she begins to launch her plans for what she wants. When he questions and doubts it, shrugs it off because his own needs are being met she goes for the gusto. She appeals to his desire to rule, he will live in a palace, become a prince and later a king and eat Turkish delight every day. He likes that idea and is ready to go – but she says, he will need subjects under him. She will make his siblings duke and duchess’s under him. He doesn’t seem to care to much about that, there is nothing ‘special about them’.
She then takes the Turkish delights away and abandons him with the empty promise. As he asks for just one more Turkish delight to eat on his way back home it is denied. Leaving him with a craving he can only fulfill by obeying the witch and betraying his own family.
How similar is my own story after all, there is no doubt that I have been tempted and fallen for all of these things. The things I have done to have my needs met, even as a born again, head over heels in love with Jesus, Spirit filled child of God I have fallen for the things most familiar to us all.
It comes down to this – we all have needs, physical, emotional and the psychological. We want to be warm, covered and our thirsts and hunger met. We want to be important, to have rule or control of at least our own lives if not over others as well. I’d go as far to say we believe having fame is not only wonderful it is now a much more possible thing to achieve, therefore many pursue it. Finally we want God to answer to us as to why, when, where, etc. we find it our right to question Him and if He proves Himself according to our ideals we will obey.
I don’t have to share more than that, I can give many examples in my own life. The thing that strikes me the most at this point in my life is that my temptations and straying away doesn’t come as a troll or a red horned devil with a pitchfork, it comes as the familiar.
My recent area of growth was with my electronic devices. I’m not against them but I will say this – they are familiar, acceptable and even the refusal to have or use them is frowned upon. Yet, I found that as I embraced this familiar acceptable thing in my life I became distracted and began going to it more often that I was going to prayer, worship or Gods Word.
I craved playing my games, seeing if I could beat the next level or have my name at the top of the leading score board.
I wanted to show everyone how my life was going and to see what everyone else is up to in the world (my own minute of fame and the opportunity to comment on and possibly control someone else with my opinions).
I enjoyed scrolling through dozens and dozens of little pictures to find recipes, craft ideas, inspirations and things that made me laugh.
I was using hours and hours of time – pushing aside my need for sleep, daily chores and even relationships. Most importantly, my time with God. I would of course read a scripture and devotional every day, but I wasn’t pausing – I wasn’t giving my full attention to sharing with or hearing from God.
I realized this only because He loves me so that He brought it to my attention. I challenged myself (or He challenged me) to 40 days of setting down the main thing that was causing all of the distraction. Now 40 days later I can’t imagine going back. I still use and did use much of my electronic devices, I really only gave up the 1 thing on a device that I was really being controlled by.
I pray God will work with you and for you to open your eyes, ears and heart to know what familiar thing in your life is feeding you. Which of your basic needs are being met by something other than God? In what ways are you being distracted or questioning God?
By examining these things we can break the hold on us that keeps us from being who we were designed to be, we can grow and flourish and produce the fruit we are intended to and reap the harvest that He has given to us to reap.
May we all choose to store up treasures in heaven, to be what we were created to be fulfilling our purpose. May we bring the kingdom of God down to the very place that God has given to us to influence. Lovingly devoted to our Lord.