Don Goulding - Blog

My Gorilla

Monkey on your back 208x300Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me - so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NETFull)

I have a monkey on my back. No, it’s much heavier than that, it must be a gorilla. I can never turn far enough to see it but I stagger under its weight and I hear primal grunts from behind. People give strange looks, they must be shocked at the size of my gorilla.

My ape is noisy and rude. He is all that is vile and ugly and hateful. Everywhere I go, he interrupts with inappropriate habits and offensive banter. He is the cause for the temptations raging in my life, for my ailing body, and for all my soured relationships.

The most frustrating tactic of my gorilla is that he mimics my voice. He whispers dark thoughts and fools me into thinking I came up with them. Depression, anger, apathy—he has a long repertoire of wicked ideas to plant. And when he runs out, he listens to demons who give him even more ways to trick me.

Try what I may, I can’t get free of this exhausting weight crushing my shoulders. I slap at my back and jab sticks but my gorilla only laughs and digs in for a tighter hold. 

I asked Jesus to get rid of the beast, to lift it from my back and set me free. He said, no, because when there’s no gorilla I don’t hold his hand as tight. He would do anything to make sure I never let go of his hand, including allowing the unwelcome monkey to stay on my back.

If Jesus said this is the way it is, then that’s how it will stay. I have to keep the gorilla until I die. So I’ll cling to the hand of Jesus and ask him to counteract each whisper from my gorilla. There is going to be a lot of asking and much hand squeezing.

Prayer: Be close, Jesus, and help me with the weight of my sin nature.

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Join Creation

IMG 3577 1But now, ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky and they will tell you. Or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea declare to you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this … Job 12:7-9 (NETFull)

Clouds heaped themselves into billows, round on top, flat and gray on the bottom, and a  tasteful hint of orange worn low on their hips. Standing apart from one another, they populated the sky, large overhead and small in the horizon. Besides their aesthetic appeal, each cloud was a scientific marvel of liquid particle suspension and solar light refraction. Whether any human took notice or not, they broadcast the glory of their Creator God.

Snow-white seagulls rode the breeze above a scalloped ocean. They wheeled about stabbing yellow beaks into the wind. Their wingtips banked left then corrected right. Each gull followed its whims but stayed inside the boundaries of the gathered flock.

Clouds, gulls, stars, dolphins—everything in our universe declares the majesty of Jehovah God because that’s the purpose of its existence.

Mankind is different. Created in God’s image, we are bequeathed with the freedom of choice. We can choose to glorify God with our lives or not. If I want to disregard the biblical standards of living and hurt others when it pleases me, I can. The primary consequences of my actions are deferred until the next era.

The game is on and the clock is ticking. I’m given a limited number of years to see what I’ll do with the divine gift of choice. One day, the tally will be totaled and recompense will arrive. For now, there is a great opportunity to stand with the rest of creation and glorify God.

Prayer: My blessed Creator, I join the animals, birds, and fish to praise you.

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Over the Threshold

brain mind thoughts 735 350When they placed their threshold by my threshold and their doorpost by my doorpost, with only the wall between me and them, they profaned my holy name by the abominable deeds they committed. (Ezekiel 43:8 NET_FL)

Dani and I once lived next-door to furloughed missionaries from Mozambique with a connecting doorway between our apartments. Residing adjacent to them made us self-conscious of playing loud music, of the clutter we left out, and of our conversations near the door.

The Bible says we are the new temple of God. That means his Most Holy Place is inside me, just over the threshold from the Holy Place of my mind. It makes me think twice about the garbage I permit into my thoughts.

In the days of the physical temple, the Holy Place was where incense was continually offered by consecrated priests. Today, it’s the place in my mind from which prayers float upward offered by a purified conscience. This is meant to be a quiet, reverent space in my being. I fear it is otherwise.

Oh, what sacrilege and idolatry I permit in my thoughts, right next to God’s abode. Instead of a sanctuary, my mind is a brothel with every kind of impurity running in and out. I may not act on the demonic banter in my head but I often entertain temptation before giving it an eviction notice. By then it has grown into a muscular adolescent that ignores my refutations and must be forced out by the Deliverer.

For the sake of my incredible neighbor, I really want to clean up my Holy Place. It’s time to refuse visitors of fantasy, envy, or worry. I must point to the narrow threshold that separates my mind from the home of the Most High God and send those thoughts scurrying.

Prayer: Holy Father, forgive my trash and help me clean up.

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