Faith

The Snake in the Barn

13 Comments 22 June 2011

You may or may not know that my little crisis has officially come to an endand hopefully not just for now. You are probably not aware that I actually wrote this entry a few days ago, but I was unable to post it to the blog when it was complete. The little crisis I was hacked and the site was taken over by someone or something calling themselves The Viper. Creative, huh? What I do not know and probably never will know is if I was singled out for The Vipers venomous assault or if I am just some unlucky web junkie who was randomly selected for an attack by an anonymous computer program designed to seek and destroy unsuspecting websites strewn far and wide across the web.

This site is my baby, one of our familys great prides, and a huge part of what we consider to be our ministry so having it come under attack like this and having it rendered useless both to us and to you caused no shortage of strife in our little world. I dont have a computer guy on speed dial and I dont know much in the way of fixing them myself. I know homebuilding very well, along with kids and blogging and family and a few other things, but I dont know computers in the least bit. The code in which they operate, the lines of seeming gibberish that run behind the curtains of any website you visit and which are actually responsible for everything you see, are complete nonsense to me Id have an easier time communicating with an illiterate Russian mime than I would a line of code. So when the hack attack commenced leaving me utterly useless to counter the assault and restore my baby to health I was frustrated, angry, andlets just leave it at that.

In a seemingly unrelated note, another little issue has had us feeling much the same way and at the same time (coincidentally?) has been playing out in our home, our heads, and our hearts. Quints By Surprise is on the brink of being cancelled by TLC a victim ofwell, I dont know exactly what it is the victim of. You can say that the ratings havent been as good as they needed to be (not true if they are held to the standard by which we were told they were being held to) or you could blame it on placement and promotion (I dont know the TV world well enough to say one way or another). You could blame it on the dollars (Quints is not a cheap show to produce) and you could certainly make a case against society as the culprit (seems that clean and wholesome dont live long on TV these days) or maybe the show just isnt that good to most observers (our opinion doesnt count unfortunately were a little biased). You could blame the potential demise of our show on any of these things and probably a few more we could think up together and truth is it is probably a combination of all of them (except the part about the show not being very good :-)).

But I have another thought. There is something out there that is possibly behind my little crisis, the struggle we are having with our little TV show, and just about everything else that doesnt quite work out the way we hoped. This thing, this thought, this theory or belief or superstition or whatever you would like to call it doesnt get much play these days, but it is a possible explanation despite the fact that it is often ignored, marginalized, mocked, or denied whenever it is brought up in most situations. Im going to walk carefully through this one so yall dont think Ive gone off the deep end so bare with me a bit. Here goes

Who, in their right mind, Kevin, could possibly deny the 20th century was entirely mine? All of itall of it. – John Milton (aka: the Devil) from “The Devil’s Advocate”

C.S. Lewis called this ground we walk on enemy-occupied territory and its master is described in Revelation as a great dragon with seven heads and ten horns. The Apostle Peter called him a roaring lion who is looking for someone to devour. And in Genesis he is nothing more than a snake in the tree, hissing his lies at the genesis of our kind. He is Satan and this is his playground. You know him well from books and Bible class and TV and movies, but do you know him on a personal level? Do you consider him to be your enemy, the ruler and master of a dark, unseen world or do you think of him more like how you think of the boogey man – just a harmless childs story that you no longer believe in now that youre a big boy or girl? Do you consider that the Bible teaches that he has declared war on this world and the sons and daughters of God who live in it? Or do you marginalize him as a myth or a metaphor, as anti-intellectual or nothing more than a scare tactic for overzealous Bible beaters?

We all know that this world is broken as are many, if not most of the people in it. I dont need to recite the statistics or recount the stories of death, destruction, and depravity that permeate every aspect of our lives for you to believe that. Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims alike can all find agreement on one thing: this world is a mess. Good grief, we dont even need to consult the religious of our day for proof – atheists hold up the newspaper and highlight the headlines of war and disease and sex gone wrong, teen pregnancy, and the hypocrisy of the next fallen church leader as exhibit A in their trial against the existence of a benevolent being we call God. And while were at it, lets consult the agnostics among us who honestly admit they do not know if there is a God or not and are simply trying to hold themselves to a high standard of conduct if you know one ask them how they think the world is getting along these days. Save yourself the trouble and trust me, Ive already given you their reply this world is a mess.

But forget about the obvious signs of evil on display in our world today you wont find many to disagree when you proclaim that Osama Bin Laden or Jeffrey Dahmer are evil men who committed evil deeds. Lets take it down to a more personal level what about that boss of yours that continually marginalizes you in company meetings? What about that mean girl at school who always has something awful and loud to say about your hair or your clothesor the way you breathe? What is the force behind their hatred of you? What about those dizzy spells that wont go away and cant be explained by the doctors? Or how about the chronic pain in your hands that prevent you from holding your grandbabies? And what about the flat tire you got on the way to lead your small group Bible study, the horrible night sleep you got the night before final exams, or the car accident you got into on the way to your performance in the high school play?

Are some of these simply examples of bad people living bad lives and doing bad things while the rest are just plain old bad luck? Or can we write it all off as an unfortunate fact of life that it sometimes sucks and sometimes bad things happen to good people?

I think that it is safe to say that none of us have the answers to these questions. And I think it is also safe to say that anyone who has lived more than about 5 or 6 years in this world would concede that sometimes life is hard and no fun at all. In fact, Im going to go out on a limb here and say that I think we can all agree that pain and suffering is universal, that bad things happen to good people because that is the way of this world, and that many times life and the people who live it are mean, cruel, jaded, embittered, and sometimes outright evil.

So why do we all, Christians and non-Christians alike, refuse to accept the possibility that there is a larger hand at play in the very brokenness we all agree exists and is progressing at unprecedented levels in spite of equally unprecedented attempts to stop it all (I just read somewhere that 2010 was a record year of giving for Americans)? If pain and suffering and cruelty and evil are among the few universal truths of this world, why is it so difficult to accept and acknowledge (or even consider!) that there is a common denominator, a single hand stirring the pot, an accuser, attacker, and advocate of evil, darkness, destruction, and death?

I know I knowI get it – its kind of weird to talk about angels and demons and supernatural intercession and interference into our lives. Its kind of goofy, isnt it? Talking about the Devil and his army of demons attacking you feels about as sane as talking about the latest sighting of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster as real events that are proof of their existence. And it gets worse for us Americans not only is it goofy, it is blatantly un-American. We are the Marlboro Man and John Wayne on steroids. We are self-made, individualistic, and we are responsible for our own destiny. We believe in hard work, freedom, and liberty, and well be damned if someone thinks were going to let the Boogey Man hold us back from fulfilling our self-inspired and self-created destiny. We are masters of one and slaves to none… (And to that, I say yeah, right!)

Sidebar – now that I think of it, in a way, blaming the Devil for evil in this world is a very American pastime after all. Look at all of the evil and oppression and violence and hatred that has been spread in this country alone in Gods name. Could anything be more blatantly evil and dare I say, Satanic, than subverting the beauty and grace and love of Christ into something that is used to oppress and intimidate and destroy? Americans certainly do not have the market cornered in the economy of zealous authority, but we have certainly advanced the cause over the course of our history.

Look, Im not saying that the Devil personally attacked my blog or is the puppet master holding the strings and controlling the players who are advocating that Quints ends up on the TLC cutting-room floor. I do not look for the devil in every detail of my life, good or bad, and I do not suggest that you do either. And I am certainly not suggesting that you waste your time cowering under the covers or looking around every corner, constantly afraid of the next attack and seeing Satans hand in every harsh thing that happens in this world (any of yall reading this have Saturday Night Lives Church Lady in your head right now?). But stillI believe hes out there and I know hes up to no good. So if I am saying he is out there and he is plotting against you, but I am also saying that it really doesnt matter because you cant live your life in fear of him what exactly is it that Im saying?

Let me ask this, if you were a 10-year-old and your father ran a farm and he told you to go out to the barn and get a shovel for a ditch he needed dug, youd do it right? Sure you wouldyoud amble out to the barn, chase a few chickens along the way, hop up on a hay bale once you got into the barn, and declare yourself king of the mountain before grabbing the shovel and making your way back to your father, ready for some serious digging. Piece of cake and kind of fun, tooanother day of hard work with your dad and a little adventure to the barn to liven things up a bit. But what if, while you were making your way across the chicken coop to get to that barn and the shovel within, your father hollered out, be careful, theres a snake in that barn and hes been up to no good.?

Gulp! What kind of snake exactly? How big is he and what kind of no good has he been up to?? And if there is one, wouldnt there be others? Are there lights in the barn so I can see him if he comes after me? Can I have a weapon to protect and defend myself a knife, a guna suit of body armor and a bazooka maybe???

That snake kind of changes the stakes of the gamekind of takes the gitty-up out of your get-along, doesnt it little buddy? Instead of ambling, youre creeping your way to the barn. And instead of chasing the chickens youre cussing them for sneaking up on you and scaring the bejeezus out of you. Youre no longer king of the mountain – youre the meekest of mice on the molehill. But you cant let your father down so you summon the courage and convince yourself that he wouldnt send you off to certain death; and with fierce resolve you make it into the demons den, retrieve the shovel..then turn and run faster than your 10-year-old legs have ever carried anything in their young lives and get back to the task at hand, shovel-ready, digging awayall the while hoping your father noticed how bravely and dutifully you worked to fulfill the mission he set you out on.

You did it. You survived. You faced evil and evil did not winnot today, not on your watch.

But what really changed after your father warned you about the snake? It was just a warning, right, not a guarantee? Did knowing the snake was in there somewhere certify that you would be attacked, bitten, wrapped in his coils, and dragged off to the snakes lair someone past the seventh gate of Hell? And if that is the case, why on Earth did you still go in??

The fact is that nothing changed; nothing at all. The snake was in there whether you knew he was there or not. It didnt matter whether you knew he was there, were fully aware of his presence or were ignorantly blissor even if you denied his existence or presence in your life. And being a 10-year-old without a knife, a gun, or a suit of body armor and a bazooka at your disposal there probably isnt a whole lot you could do if you found yourself face-to-face with the little devil anyway. Nothing you could do at allother than run. Nothing to do other than run as fast as your 10-year-old legs have ever carried anything back to where you knew it was safeback to your father.

But knowing the snake was there changed everything, didnt it, If only in your mind. Sure, it didnt change your capabilities or your strength; your ability to outwit or outmaneuver the snake wasnt changed, either. But it changed your approach, didnt it? You didnt amble, you crept. And you didnt play around, you prepared. You didnt eye the top of the hay bale mountain and declare yourself king, you kept your eye out for the king of evil and declared yourselfdefeated.

And then you ran. You ran back to your father, back to where it has always been safe. Because you know that your father has been there and he has faced the evil that you fearand he has faced the evil that you deny. He has been to the barn and hes been to the battlefield. Hes been to the boardroom and hes been to your classroom. Hes faced the mean girls and hes faced the mean boss. Hes faced the devil in all of those places and hes faced him in places you havent and never will. Hes faced him in Heaven, hes faced him on Earth, and hes faced him in Hell.

But through it all, your father is still there watching over you and waiting on your return. And over the years he sends you out on many more missions to the barn and other places where evil lurks and youve managed to survive them all. Sure youve been scarred along the way, bumped your head a few times in your mad dash out of the serpents lair, but youve survivedevery single time. And funny thing is, youve never seen the snake face to face, but you know hes there. Youve seen the destruction around you, youve heard his whispers, and you know his scent. But in spite of this you dont run from the barn these days, you walk, confident and prepared…

So I guess thats what Im trying to sayevil is real. It is real and it is everywhere, it has a source, it has power, and it has you in its sites. You know the devil is out there so dont deny him. Dont deny him, dont fear him, and dont run from him. Be aware of him and be prepared for his inevitable assault. But above all, know that your father has been there where you are now and where you fear to goand know that he is still there, watching over you, protecting you, and waiting on your return.

God bless,

Ethan

Your Comments

13 Comments so far

  1. Anna says:

    You are in my prayers! I personally love your show. I did go to the site and sent a note saying I hope it isn’t cancelled. I don’t think they played your show enough to cancel it already. I loved your show better then Jon and Kate plus 8…. there was a lot less bickering, yelling, and hate for each other. lol. I am not sure there is anything I can do but support you all in prayer…. :)

  2. Donna says:

    Your family is in my prayers. And I hope and pray your show will continue.

  3. Linda M. says:

    Ethan,

    Remember when people were saying that it was a mistake for your family to make the show? Remember how they were so negative about it all? Remember how you and Casey didn’t think it to be a bad thing? You went forward with it in faith: faith that if it was in GOD’s will that it would work out and that it would be good for your family. The rest of us don’t matter in that decision (keep reading) it was just you and your family.

    You were and are correct. Remember now, that it was faith that made you decide to do the show, and now this little contretemps is facing you. Is this an attack from satan, or is it a test of faith in GOD?

    You touched many people with your show. Now I encourage you to continue that touch. Continue in the effort to show people a loving, Christ-centered family that loves the members more than the self (where a few others have gone wrong). Believe that if GOD wants this show to go forward, HE will make it continue, give it another producer, change the channel it’s on: whatever. GOD is in control — you are to rest in faith.

    I do believe that your job right now is to understand that these incidents are of satan, allowed by GOD as in Job’s situation. Notice what was attacked: The things you WITNESS of GOD to the WORLD with. That’s a pretty big problem for satan: someone who actually has the courage to witness to the WORLD of GOD’s love. “Viper” may have struck randomly, but the timing and circumstances make me doubt it. “Random” to us is strictly planned by satan. Your worldwide witness was a threat and had to be dealt with, if only for a little while.

    So, Ethan, I say this: Believe that your show will go forward if you and your family want it to, if you believe that it is GOD’s will, and if you rely on the income from the show. And believe, Ethan, that GOD is able to change hearts, heads and — through the internet even — touch souls via your family. That’s what GOD is asking of you right now. Just believe.

    We will believe with you and we look forward to watching the kids grow, learn and be brought into GOD’s kingdom as HIS children because their Mom and Dad believed.

  4. Kathy says:

    I agree with you 100%! Our pastor puts it that satan hates us, our families, our everything, and will do ANYTHING in his power to keep us from living a joyful, victorious life for Christ. No, we can’t live looking for the devil behind every fence post, but we must be aware that he is working against us. I love your show, for the exact reasons you surmise it could be cancelled, it’s wholesome, but real. I will be praying that it will continue.

  5. Lindsay says:

    II Corinthians 5:18 will guide your heart to peace. Paul’s statement is startling!

    “And all things are of God”

    It is unqualified, and he repeats it in Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, and Hebrews. Life is hard by by God’s design, and we can trust his hand in all that we experience – the good and bad – as I am sure that you do. Remember to have full confidence in his control and his amazing love for you and your family.

    And hopefully, his will is to let your show play on. I never miss an episode and it gives me such encouragment in the raising of my own little ones. But if not, he’s still got it handled…

  6. Sonya says:

    Reading your blog pretty much summed up the past six months of my life. On January 18th, I got on a plane and headed into the great unknown and landed in Alaska. I had no job lied up all I had was a roof over my head provided by my parents. In the back of my mind the whole time I could feel and hear the fear and doubt try and take control. Telling me I wasn’t going to make it. I was making the biggest mistake of my life.

    Within two months I had a job working with kids that I love and then the next month I landed a job working at a small thrift store run by a charity organization. The pay is not the greatest, but it is a job and I get to meet so many people who just need a little reminder that God is still creating people who love others and want others to succeed. My family has spent a lot of the last two years making many trips to the “barn” and each time our resolve in the fact that God is bigger than us and that everything will be okay is what kept us from running back to him before the task was completed.

    I feel like there are so many people who trust God and trust that everything will work out the best, but as they begin the task God has set before them they get stuck, it gets too hard or too risky and now they are standing in front of a canyon. A canyon that is filled with ups and downs, but with faith it is possible to get across. However so many have a hard time of taking the first step. We need more Christians that will be willing to jump off the ledge because it is so worth it.

    I am greatly saddened that they may end the show, but at least this blog will still be here and you will still be able to pour out a little bit of wisdom that we could all use.

  7. karen says:

    I completely agree with your blog. Evil is everywhere and the evil one is looking for as many as he can take with him because he knows his time is short. Yet, we as believers do not have to be afraid, discouraged or feel hopeless. he cannot touch us because Jesus died on a cruel Roman Cross and conquered sin, death and him. satan has the world. he is accomplishing what he wants to do and is doing it very well. But he will still fight to try to take believer’s down. What a notch in his evil belt that would be, to take down a Christian. Your blog is very right on!
    2 Cor.12:10 says “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Ethan, you are in good company and your Christ-centered family are blessed. I am certainly praying that your show is not cancelled. It is so very uplifting and you can feel the love you all have for each other. How much has changed in the world. But, we are just pilgrims here, this is not our Home. Praise God for that! I pray that your show is not cancelled, but whatever happens God’s Will shall be done and His Glory will shine. Your blog is wonderful. This is the first time I have read it. I was looking to see when your show would be airing again. I do not beleive this is a coincidence that I stumbled upon your site. The Lord knows what we are going to do even before we do it! So, continue to keep your eyes on Him as I know you will. Be encouraged knowing that even if your show ends, you can reach many with the Word through your blog. God bless you and your sweet family. In Christ’s Name, Karen

  8. Casey says:

    Thank you. I needed this today. God bless you and your sweet family.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I am only 13 years old and your show is my favorite thing to watch. I have really enjoyed watching the quints and Eliot too. I really hope the show is not cancelled.

  10. Tori says:

    Great post Ethan– and I love the quote from “Devil’s Advocate” because it is so true, and scary. Evil is very real. Satan is very real.

    Prayers for you, Casey and the kids.

  11. Steffanie says:

    That was extremely well written. You are a very inspirational family, your optimism and love for one another is rare and encouraging. Although I hope that your show doesnt get cancelled, if it does I am sure that you guys will continue to inspire the world- you will not be defeated. God has big plans for you.

  12. Joyce says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I totally understand, it seems as though satan just jumps right in on everything. The one thing I think that gets me through each thing that happens in my family’s life is I just keep remembering God is in control and we are just passing through.

  13. Stacey says:

    The devil is definitely out for blood; there’s no denying that. And I’m really sad to hear about the show. You and Casey have such a POSITIVE, encouraging, marriage and family and its just…unfortunate that that doesn’t pull in ratings like meanness, drama, and….other things. Keep us posted!


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