Like pirates, hunters, and thieves test a gold coin by biting down on it, my test of Christianity is whether the man wants to talk about it outside the church door. If there’s a lot of inspiring God-words in the building but only sports talk in the parking lot, I’m leery.
That brings me to Tony. Grace brought me to Tony on a recent morning. I was minding my own business, taking my 2.7-mile morning constitution at the cemetery—telling the Lord I’m sorry I let Satan have so much of my past but asking for the strength to overcome the devil in my present and future—when suddenly Tony trundled down the road in his green Gator, smiling like he’s got buried treasure hidden in the field.
“Hi Tony,” I called out. “Hello sister,” he beamed. “I’ve got to show you something I read every day and it’s always just the right thing.” So he took a daily devotional book out of his glove compartment and commenced to tell me about that day’s lesson: It seems there were these two cats who catch a mouse, and then rather than eating it, toy with it. They grab it in their teeth and then let it go. And just as the unfortunate rodent thinks he’s gotten away, one of them reaches out a paw and drags it back for more perverse fun.
Tony said sometimes we think of God that way—as a tyrant who spends all his time up there thinking up dirty tricks to pull on us. Instead, said Tony—remembering what he read earlier that morning—it’s actually the devil who is the tyrant. But the devil does it in such a way as to make us think he’s our friend and on our side. God has been holding out on us, the devil tells us, and he is sympathetic. But as a matter of fact, all his promises turn out to be fool’s gold. That affair that seemed so promising? It blows up. The little white lie we told? It gets found out. And even if it’s not found out, it whittles away at the Spirit in us in ways we aren’t even aware of.
So how do you like that for an answer to prayer? After I asked to be delivered from the evil one God sent a 47-year-old black Baptist preacher on an ATV.