Devotional Thought (for 6/25) from Kristen Kocsis

Last week, at the tail end of our RV adventure, we were supposed to hike at the Grand Tetons. This was the stop I was most excited about – the one I had been looking forward to since we started planning our trip. This was a park I had really wanted to go to since before I graduated college. I had this vision – we would spend hours and hours hiking through the mountains, get some really scenic views, it was going to be awesome! I woke up that morning to loud booming thunder. It was pouring. Monsooning. 48 degrees. Hiking would be miserable, wet, and cold. And who knows where the mountains are – somewhere buried beneath layers and layers of clouds. I was so disappointed and frustrated. I immediately felt myself getting kind of angry. Then I heard this still small voice

“Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Eventually, there was a two hour clearing in the rain. We decided to risk it and go for a hike. It was still rainy and cold and we decided if the weather got too bad, we would need to turn back. My friend really wanted to see a bear, so we took a detour to try to see a bear. I could feel the anger and frustration bubbling up again. We only have a little bit of time and we’re going to waste it all creeping along looking for a bear and not get to see any of the mountains. I was spiralling down this angry, self centered thought train, when there the voice was again. 

“Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

It’s a phrase from Genesis 4. Cain is jealous that God approves of his brother Abel’s sacrifice and God gives Cain this warning. “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 

Sin is like a beast – a wild animal crouching, prowling, waiting to consume and devour. God’s warning is an act of kindness, a reminder to pause and take a step back. Cain, like his mother and father before him (who were also under the influence of a beast – a snake), is at a crossroads. Give into the beast, give into sin, get devoured and move towards death. Rule over the beast, resist sin, and move towards life. 

Cain gave in to the beast. He let his jealousy and frustration overtake him and he killed his brother. Chaos, pain, and wickedness ensued. 

The rest of the Bible story is filled with people facing these beastly urges to put themselves above others. To do things their way instead of God’s way. Time after time, they give in, and the beast devours and consumes people, families, even entire nations. 

Then comes Jesus – he always does what is right. He rules the beast.

In Revelation 19, Jesus is pictured battling a terrible beast. He’s riding a white horse and he’s called faithful and true and he destroys the beast forever. 

There in the Tetons, I felt God offering me this warning. “You’re at a crossroads. Your anger, your self consumed attitude, your doubt that God is good even when your plans are messed up – all of this is like a beast crouching at your door, threatening to consume you and destroy everything. But it doesn’t have to.” 

It was this gracious reminder that because of Jesus’s work on the cross and his empty tomb, Jesus’s victory over the beast can also be my victory over the beast. Jesus loves us too much to leave us constantly consumed by sin and selfishness. He loves us too much to let us continue to move through life leaving a trail of destruction in our wake. He is victorious over the beast and his victory has real life implications not just for after we die, but right here and now. 

That day in the Tetons, I fought for a couple of miles, trying to battle the beast on my own power before I remembered to stop and give the battle to Jesus. But man, what a difference. What started out as a day full of frustration and struggle transformed into a day full of joy and gratitude and connection. We even saw the mountains… and a bear. 

– Where are you battling the beast? 
– Are you battling off of your own strength, or are you standing in Jesus’s victory?