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Not Today…

After months of repeating “This is the day that Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24) to the sound of my electric toothbrush and with the intention of inviting joy into my day before it started, I realized that some days were a battle before my feet even hit the floor, requiring a little extra on top of Psalm 118:24. That is when I started saying, “not today satan.” I am not sure how I adopted this saying of mine; I think it might have arisen in a joking manner at first. Now, it is a lifeline; so much so that one of my best friend’s Mckenzie sent me a sticker she found with the saying on it. On the days that already have challenges waiting for my mind and heart before I get up, “not today satan” is my battle strategy; I say it out loud and pray that God would use His power to replace whatever evil is swirling around in my brain with dancing thoughts of His goodness.

In today’s society, I feel like we do not really talk about the devil. For some, I believe there is a brush-it-off mentality towards the devil, not wanting to believe that there is active evil in the world. For others, there is such a great fear of the enemy that we avoid the subject at all costs. I have fallen into the latter category for most of my life, so much so that I would say, “not today satan” in a joking manner because I did want to address the magnitude of evil seriously. However, two occurrences have collided in my life in this past season that have made the saying not nearly a joke but instead a strategy, a verbalized “no” to the cracks where evil slips in my life.

To start, it is probably best for me to give a bit of context to the first occurrence: I am a productivity-driven, type-A overachiever. I have learned to not see this title as negative, and I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist, knowing that productivity is not innately wrong until I believe it must be a perfect display of my worth. However, as an overachiever, my mind, especially during school, runs from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. in days jam-packed with school and passion projects and talking to my people and who-knows-what-else. This brings me to the first occurrence: I started to notice my thought patterns shift to ugly things when school was winding down this spring semester. I did not know why at first, and in all honesty, I was first ashamed but then just angry at these thoughts popping up in my mind, thoughts that did not reflect my heart’s desires nor love for other people. Then, the puzzle pieces clicked: my brain had been so used to running on overdrive 24/7 that the second it had free capacity, ugliness crept in. Despite having used it as a joke in the past, I am so thankful God had given me “not today satan” in my back pocket during that time. It became the beginning of my prayers, a firm rebuke against satan’s temptation to think of ugliness and a freeway to inviting God into my thoughts all the more. I still use this strategy often, far more often than my recovering perfectionist self might like to admit.

If applying “not today satan” to my own life is the first occurrence, the second occurrence is Louie Giglio’s sermons about his new book, “Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table.” I will not pretend to be an expert on the four ways he describes the enemy can creep up to your table, or your life; instead, I can only recommend that you listen to the sermons about the book or read the good ole-fashioned paperback book for yourself (I will join you in this as it is on my reading list!). This second occurrence that transformed “not today satan” in my life is how Giglio’s sermon inspired me. It inspired me to examine my life in a way that we, as broken humans, do not often like to do: with a close eye for the places evil and brokenness have taken root. His sermon reminded me that the enemy is active in tempting us on this side of Heaven; therefore, if we do not want our lives to be a reflection and product of the broken world we inhabit, we must actively fight against the enemy’s hand in our lives. At one point in the sermon, I praised God that He has protected satan from pulling up a chair permanently to my table, yet at the same time, I was convicted of a pattern in my life: leaving my table to follow the temptations of the enemy’s table. I realized that while I have said no to satan at my table, I have said yes to coffee dates with him instead. I have given into temptations, thinking that brief moments of ugliness aka coffee dates with the devil’s temptations do not amount to much. I try to justify these temporary excursions in evil because, in all honesty, I do not do them intentionally most times. Much like what happened in the first occurrence I described above, ugliness creeps in when I do not protect my mind’s free capacity. However, there is no justification for coffee dates with the devil; I do not want ugliness to have a place in my mind, at my table, or in my heart.

Psalm 23:4-5 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The beauty of this verse is that we do not have to say “not today satan” with our own might; instead, we get to say it in the power of the One who has already conquered death and all evil, in the name of Jesus. While we walk through the valley of the shadow of death or any place in our lives where temptations threaten our thoughts, our Creator promises to be with us, to comfort us in trials, and to prepare tables for us as a celebration of His goodness even in the middle of a broken world. God’s hope is not that we just barely survive life and the enemy’s active temptations in it; His hope is that we would live abundantly under His wings on this broken side of Heaven until, one day, we enter the glory of the other side. Praise Him for this! Here’s to saying “not today satan” with confidence in Jesus’s power, to living in His goodness despite the brokenness of Earth.

With love, C

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