We buried him about three weeks ago. After a week long struggle, Clark, one of our beloved hedgehogs finally passed away. As with all of our pets we bury, Clark was given a very dignified memorial “service”. Reece prepared his “casket” with two fleece hedgie pouches. She even adorned the casket with a purple “burial cloth” tied in a bow since, in her words, “purple is the color royalty”.
The hole was dug, the funeral proceeded, and life went on with one less cute face looking at us in our hedgehog room.
Yes, life went on. And then…
Yesterday Reece ran inside the house to inform me that something had attempted to “dig up Clark”. I went outside and found that the still somewhat freshly laid dirt, now had a hole in it. The purple burial cloth could be seen stretched from the hole onto the top of the grave as though something had dragged it from the earth below. I imagine a possum or raccoon must have been the culprit due to the small diameter of the hole. With all the rain over the past few weeks, Clark’s grave site had probably been prime territory for lurking predators seeking an easy meal.
Out came the shovel again. Out came the latex gloves. And out came the more secure new “casket” for Clark. After digging around the probable location of his body, I finally located poor Clark and the old “casket” that had housed his body. I don’t know which was more difficult. The burial… or the “re-burial”.
As I poured the dirt over Clark for the second time, I was reminded how “not fun” it is to bury a beloved pet. I was also reminded how easy it is for the right kind of prowling nose to locate a scent, even one that we would assume is buried and gone.
“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”- 2 Corinthians 2:10,11
Like the lurking grave robber that attempts to dig up a beloved pet, Satan thrives on something called “digging up our past.” This is one scheme that he has become quite successful at with born again Christians. He knows that the child of God is a new creation in Christ. He cannot stand the fact that a soul that is saved, is a soul that is renewed. He agonizes over the power of forgiveness, redemption, and renewal. And he hides his face when our Savior clothes us with robes whiter than snow.
So he does the only thing he knows how to do. He tries to outwit us. His schemes quite often involve trying to remind us of a past that God told us was forgiven and behind us. You know, the “baggage” that used to weigh you down? The sin that used to entangle you? The lifestyle that used to control you? The enemy has invested in a little backhoe known as “the old you” to dig as deep as he can go. When he finds that past, he will do all he can to use it against you.
He will dig up that old grudge, that old sin, that old hurt, and that old way of life. He will try to remind you of the addiction, the relationship, and the betrayal. He wants the stench of bitterness, regret, pain, and entanglement to haunt us and to torment us. Have you ever seen a child of God so unable to just let go? That is Satan’s plan at work.
He won’t always leave obvious clues such as an outstretched royal burial cloth to display what he is trying to do. There won’t always be evidence of fresh dirt around the grave to make us aware of his goal. More often than not he is very subtle, very sly, and very sneaky. That memory that began as a mere passing thought? He wants you to dwell on it. He wants you to remember what it was like to feel that hurt…or take that drink. Remember what it was like to be bound with that unforgiveness? Remember how you always gave in when that temptation came around?
“Remember,” whispers the enemy. “Don’t let it go,” he says. “Why would you ever think that it was all in the past?” he tries to convince you. Oh, and that voice that tells you “You never changed. You never broke free. You never really were forgiven”… That’s the enemy too.
The enemy knows what to say to cause confusion. He knows just what to say to rattle our nerves. He is a scheming slanderer with many tricks in his possession. Trying to bound us up in a negative past is something he has become very good at. Many Christians have been wounded by his tricks. His goal is to render them useless and ineffective for the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, so many become easy prey.
So how do we guard against this? How do go on the offensive to take preventative measures rather than having to defend ourselves? Read more of 2 Corinthians 2 and see that one way is made clear. Paul is reminding the church in Corinth of the importance and necessity of forgiveness. Apparently, one of their own had previously been caught in a grievous sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-11). He encouraged the church to forgive and restore the fellow believer so that Satan would not have a foothold in order to take advantage of the situation.
If you are a born again child of God, you have been forgiven of that past, whatever it looks like. Maybe it is time you forgive yourself. Is that a foothold Satan is using? Have you thought that surely God is big enough to forgive, but you are not strong enough to forgive yourself? If this is the case, take heart. Freedom is on its way when you view your past in light of the Lord’s mercy rather than in light of your weaknesses. If the perfect and holy God who sets the standard for perfection offered mercy to you, then it only makes sense that you, imperfect and unholy in and of yourself, should be merciful to yourself.
Hopefully, Clark can finally rest in hedgie peace once and for all. This time the hole was dug a bit deeper. The casket was a bit more secure. And some stones and bricks were even stacked on top for extra precaution. In the same way, we must not allow the grave digger named Satan to dig up our forgiven past. Let us not be outwitted by our real enemy!