The voice of the Enemy will always accentuate restriction. He’ll say, “You can’t.” He manipulates God’s direction, twisting it around to focus on what you can’t have instead of what you can. He shines a spotlight on limitations because he knows it will heighten the attention you give to it. He wants to entice you to sadness over what’s being withheld from you, rather than celebration over all that’s been made available to you.Priscilla Shirer, “Distinguishing Freedom,” Awaken
(In this devotional section, Mrs. Shirer was talking about the boundaries God puts in our lives and how there are so many things we can do but how Satan tries to get us to focus on what we can’t do. But I’m going to talk about this in a slightly different way.)
It’s really changed up our world, hasn’t it?
And people are upset. Complaining about how they can’t do this and this, and how that has been cancelled/closed/changed.
And I understand in a way. I missed being able to go to church–or anywhere–while we were in quarantine. I don’t really like the idea of having to wear something over my lower face if I ever decide to go to Walmart with my mom. I hate that all these things are being cancelled, like my church’s free-concert-and-meal we have during Butler Days.
And that’s exactly what Satan wants. He wants us focusing on what we can’t do/have–and that’s what we’re doing!
“Oh, we can’t go to Walmart without a mask on.” Okay, so? Yeah, it’s not pleasant and I don’t really want to do it, but at least we can still go to Walmart, right?
I’m not saying it’s right for us to wear a mask in public and do exactly everything the government tells us–but I’m not saying it’s wrong either. I don’t really know how I feel about all this. But that’s not my point, y’all.
My point is, what are we focusing on? Are we focusing on what we can do, or on what we can’t?
Focusing on what we can’t have or do makes us miserable, fussy toddlers who whine about that thing they can’t play with while ignoring the five available toys right in front of them. And maybe God looks at His children, going “Yeah, I know you can’t have that piece of paper, but here’s this toy truck you can have. Look, its wheels spin and it has lights and it even makes noises!”
Focusing on what we can have or do. . . It gives us joy, makes us grateful. We’re content and thrilled, like a toddler playing with that truck; we realize that it’s so, so much better than that plain piece of paper.
So yeah, we might not be able to go shopping if we don’t wear a mask. Yeah, we might not be able to bless and reach out to people through singing and good food. Yeah, we might not be able to go to all the places we’d like to, because they’re closed or severely restricted.
But we can still go shopping online. We can still bless and reach out to people in so many different ways. We can still go places; we’re not forced to stay home. We can go to church. We can talk to friends (over the phone or in a letter, if not face-to-face). We can still worship God and read our Bibles and pray out loud. We can still see and smell and taste and hear and feel and move and breathe. There are movies we can watch, games we can play, books we can read (or listen to), etc.
We can do so many things, y’all! We can do more things than we can’t!
So why focus on the “nos”? On the restrictions and guidelines? On the things we don’t like? Focus on the “yeses,” on the freedoms, on the things we like that make us happy! Focus on the abilities, the blessings, the pleasures!
God’s voice points to freedom; the Enemy’s voice points to restriction.Priscilla Shirer, “Distinguishing Freedom,” Awaken