Prayer, Creativity & Faith


Welcome to installment #3 in a series called Making Scripture Your Own. (Read intro post here.) Gail Werner is a real-life friend of mine—one of several really amazing writer-friends discovered through the Midwest Writers Workshop. She’s much younger than I am but she is who I want to be when I grow up—she’s well-informed, intelligent, interesting, creative, generous with praise and encouragement, stunningly beautiful and has a great sense of style. Not to mention that she has a great deal of talent and wisdom. I love reading how she’s applied this verse to her own life.

When Kelly first asked me to share a favorite Bible verse with her, my immediate thoughts turned to the familiar in Matthew 6:34 (“Do not worry about tomorrow”) and Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things”). Here’s the thing about favorite Bible verses: We all tend to share the same ones, right? So then I thought a little harder, and I decided that what I wanted to contribute was less about the entire verse itself and more about a handful of words delivered in a scene from the Bible that, from the moment I first read it, has remained so vivid in my mind that I come back to it often (and sometimes when I least expect myself to!).

But first, a confession: As meaningful as the following scene is to me, I had to do some homework and look up where I’d first read it in the New Testament. I have read the Bible all the way through before (a great undertaking in 2011 that was a very meaningful experience to me), and I read devotionals on a regular basis. But it’s been a minute, and so I needed a reminder as to where in Matthew I could place the following:

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’” (Matthew 16:21-23, NIV).

There have been many times in my adult life where this scene has come back to me, where I have even felt compelled to voice these same words out loud, just as Jesus did, because I wanted to stand up to the Devil and his cunning ability to bring temptation and distraction into my life. I know many people can read the same lines of the Bible and take away something entirely different (in this case, maybe more of a focus on what was happening between Jesus and the apostles, in the greater context of what Jesus was telling them was about to happen to Him). But for me, I come back to this scene and dwell on the courage of Jesus to confront his greatest enemy in the way that he did—out loud and with great emphasis.

Thinking about this passage made me curious (I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism … curiosity is my superpower!) to see what others in the Christian world had written about it, and I’m going to end by sharing something I found from an old issue of the Christian Science Sentinel (even though I myself am not a Christian Scientist):

Whatever the temptation,—be it a claim of sickness, of sin, or of unhappiness,—error, erroneous mortal belief, always tries to induce us to affirm: I am sick; I am sinful; or, I am unhappy; and only as we are awake to the truth and refuse to accept and echo these lies of personal sense, can we say to them with a conviction born of spiritual understanding, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” and so prove their unreality, as did the great Master, who refused to admit the arguments that true riches are to be found in materiality, and that he could worthily use his spiritual power for material ends. After Jesus had silenced these lies, the devil departed, or disappeared into its nothingness; and Jesus thus proved that evil is nothing, no person or thing.

Reading that paragraph, I believe the last line bears repeating: Evil is nothing, no person or thing.

Every time I think of these powerful words that Jesus said to Peter, I am reminded of the power that each of us has to make our own about-face, to directly confront whatever “flavor of the month” sin may be weighing us down, and to reignite our passion to want to live a life that is more Christ-like and fulfilling than we could ever dream for ourselves.

Gail Werner is a writer, photographer, and avid reader from Indiana. She carries a book with her wherever she goes and enjoys writing fiction in her free time. Gail graduated from Ball State University with a degree in journalism and now works as an executive writer for the president of the university. In addition to her writing career, she is a freelance editor (who can’t believe she gets paid to read); an avid photographer (who has documented quite a few ‘I do’s); and a pop culture junkie. She lives in Muncie, Indiana, with her writer-husband, Nick, and their two children.

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