Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's Hard to Dance With a Devil On Your Back

Florence Welch awoke one morning after a particularly long, hard night of partying and drinking way too much. This particular morning-after found her body exhausted, her mind a scramble, and her soul depressed.

She wasn't particularly happy about what she could remember about that previous night. At the time she thought she was having a good time, but she didn't think about the consequences.

That is always going to be a problem, not realizing the fullness of the price that you are going to have to pay for the mistakes that you are willfully making right now in your life.

Florence Welch is a singer and a songwriter, and so the outlet that she chose to help her express and overcome her feelings that morning was to pen a song called "Shake It Out", one that she had her band, 'Florence and the Machine', set to music and video.

The bible tells us that Satan was an angel in God's heavenly army. The single most beautiful and magnificent angel, he was known as Lucifer, the angel of light. There was something about him that stood out, and it was noticed by other angels as well. His ego grew so large that he eventually believed that he could take God's place, and so he rebelled against God.

Of course, he could not win, but you could not tell him that. In the end he was banished from heaven for eternity, along with a third of the angels. They had chosen to follow Satan in his folly.

Cast down to earth, they looked about at God's creation knowing how important this world was to the Almighty. In particular, Satan saw the man and woman who were particularly beloved by God.

Adam and Eve had been created in God's own image, and they dwelt in a garden paradise without a care. They had no idea of the danger that was now approaching. They didn't even know of the concept of danger or fear. How could they possibly have been prepared for the devil?


Adam and Eve had been given just one single rule by God, that they should not eat the fruit of one particular tree. Their love of God and the magnificence and happiness of the world kept them from ever questioning this rule. Satan, who we now know also simply as 'the devil', saw this as his opportunity to deal God a devastating blow. He took the form of a simple snake, and slithered up to Eve one day as she was alone in the garden.

And then the devil did to Eve what he has since been doing to men and women for millenia: he whispered a simple question into her ear: why? Why was it that God didn't allow the fruit of this one single tree to be eaten. After all, that fruit looked particularly interesting. It smelled wonderful, and offered the promise of being delicious to eat. He then whispered the second thing into her ear, also the message whispered to men and women for millenia now: a bold-faced lie: God doesn't want you to eat that fruit because he knows that it will make you just like him.

He cajoled Eve along: eat the fruit, it looks so delicious. I know that it will taste just as sweet as it looks. And it brings the promise of you becoming as mighty and powerful and wise as God himself. And it's just one taste. God is not here right now. He'll never know. Just one taste will change your life forever. Eve took the bait, and took that bite. She then found her partner Adam, convinced him of the same, and Adam took his own bite.

We all know what happened next. Goodbye to the Garden of Eden. Hello to a permanent struggle between mankind and Satan's evil influence. But God did not leave man alone forever. He sent his own son to us, took the form of man himself for us. When Jesus began to spread a message of love and men began to listen, the devil again whispered into the souls of men, and had the Lord tortured and crucified. Little did the devil know that he was playing right into God's hands, as this very suffering and death was intentional, the price being paid for all those sins of man that Satan had initiated.

Now it may seem on it's face to be a powerful and long leap from Florence Welch's early morning hangover into the Garden of Eden and further into man's constant struggle with sin and evil. But the fact remains that it really is just one more perfect example. Florence was realizing that morning what she knew all along, that what she thought was fun and liberating and exhilarating was short-lived, and ultimately was destructive, was harmful, and was limiting her.

Her simple response in "Shake It Out" comes in the song's recognition of the root cause of the problem, the temptations and lies of the devil, and the recognition that her constant submission to her particular temptation for alcohol was not liberating, but that instead it was limiting her from reaching full happiness and peace. In recognition she penned and sings the line "It's hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off!"

Your parents and teachers and others tell you while growing up that certain things are bad for you, that certain places are dangerous, that some people are a bad influence. Stay way from drugs, don't drink, do your homework, play by the rules. But the devil comes along and, just as with Eve, whispers in our ears: why? Your parents know that you'll have so much fun that you'll want to leave them, and besides, they'll just be jealous of all the fun you'll be having. It tastes sweet, it makes you feel wonderful.

It's hard to dance with a devil on your back. Shake him off.

I know someone beautiful and funny and at times disarmingly charming. But in response to the various challenges that life has thrown her way over the course of her still-young life, this person has made poor decisions trying to find happiness and self-worth. Wanting love and acceptance and fulfillment, she intellectually knew the best road to these things. But the devil whispered shortcuts and lies into her ears, and she listened to him.

It's hard to dance with a devil on your back. Shake him off.

Josh Hamilton is an incredible athlete. In 1999 he was the top draft pick in all of baseball by Tampa Bay, and he could do it all: run like the wind, hit a baseball long and hard, throw a ball like a laser beam. But Josh Hamilton got hurt, and the devil whispered into his ear that drugs and alcohol would make him feel better. It did, of course, until he awoke one morning like Florence Welch, and like that beautiful girl I just mentioned, addicted and nearly destroyed.

Hamilton battled and battled against his demons. With the help of family and good, positive influences in his life, especially an acceptance and love for Jesus Christ, he turned it around after many had given him up for a lost cause. After 8 long years, he finally became the superstar baseball player that God had created him to be. But the devil doesn't just slither away on his belly. The other day, Josh Hamilton relapsed with a night of drinking and other bad behavior that has jeopardized his family and his future.

It's hard to dance with a devil on your back. Shake him off.

I've personally battled a couple of issues for a long time that have kept me from becoming the most full and complete version of the human being that God intends for me to be. I am well aware of my faults and sins, and yet I have yielded to them over and over. I briefly overcome them, and then fall back into the trap as Satan whispers into my ear: "God's not here right now. No one will know. It will taste good, feel good." But it never does for long, and the disappointment of having given in to temptation is at times devastating.

It's hard to dance with a devil on my back. I have to shake him off myself.

It sounds like a simplistic message, but it is just the opposite. We make our lives so complicated, when they are really so simple. We make so many excuses, we give so many circumstances power over us. In actuality, our problems are not another person's fault. They are not some traumatic event's result. The circumstances that limit us in the end are simply of our own choices, our own bad decisions, made willfully and knowingly when the devil whispers the shortcuts and lies into our ears and we choose to listen.

The answer really is very straightforward. Put down the needle. Put down the drink. Put down the cigarette. Put down the spoon. Never pick them up again. Pick up your Bible. Pick up the New Testament. Pick up Jesus Christ. Never put him down. Shake off the devil, and shake out your life.

It's hard to dance with a devil on your back. Shake him off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved the comparation with the lyrics, i love Florence and the Machine and i love God. So shake it out!