March 13, 2021

To be “Astir”

I squealed with delight! “Show me, show me again how the coin disappears!” My father could make a coin disappear into thin air, and then it would reappear somewhere else. I was pretty sure I didn’t have a coin in my ear, but there it was! I was mesmerized by the diversion. “Do it again!” I never caught on to the sleight of hand. The shiny coin absorbed my mind.

I have grown since then, and the trick was eventually revealed, but at that moment the magic of the coin was real. I was prepared to see only the magic, not the deceit. Distractions can be fun. A new book to read, a day at the beach, time with family and friends—but seeing only the magic can also open the door to risk. A moment of distraction can lead to an unfortunate traffic accident or a burned dinner. It can also usher in far more danger with lasting consequences. Distraction is a tool the enemy uses to steal away our focus and move our eyes away from our purpose.

We are a peculiar people, with a peculiar message. And the charge to spread the third angel’s message is growing stronger by the day. Naturally, Satan is hard at work trying to block our progress. Ellen White’s inspired comments shed light by giving us a glimpse: “All heaven is astir. The scenes of earth’s history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake.”1

Why are we not awake? To be awake is to be aware, vigilant, alert. The opposite of vigilant is to be distracted. We are distracted. A sleight of hand by a master deceiver. How can we avoid this distraction?

Know Your Enemy

Evil originated with the most powerful angel in heaven, Lucifer. It came out of envy, a thirst for power and adoration that belonged to Jesus. Lucifer snatched Planet Earth by deceit, inflicting pain through manners of carnage, great and small. The enemy’s plan of attack, in all its varied ways, reserves certain characteristics of deceit. Once reminded, we comprehend, we see our enemy. Spot the distraction and maintain focus.

Moment of Weakness: The Element of Surprise

Lucifer waits for a moment of weakness. There is an advantage to fighting when the opponent is worn out. Weakness can be created in many ways: a soul tired from facing heavy trials; an illness that wears out the body; a mind worn out by worry; complacency. The enemy waits for a moment of weakness. As in war, an element of surprise is used to throw the enemy off balance. Focus is lost when a sudden, unexpected twist materializes—the turmoil we live in, a shiny coin. Human attention is rapt, and senses that should have been aware are deflected or misdirected.  

Deceit: The Convincing Narrative 

Taking advantage of a weak moment, a narrative ensues. The enemy sets the agenda and sells the narrative by distorting, magnifying, and introducing deceit. 

Deceit is nurtured by repetition and affirmation. The narrative becomes the framework by which you filter and interpret information. It provides a rationale: the excuse for the behavior.  

Tragedy demands accountability. Facts appear not to matter when emotions run high. Punishment and restitution are demanded. The guilty are dehumanized, delegitimized, so it is acceptable to pursue them. Targeting by all is now encouraged.

Alliance Building: Us Against Them

Alliances are defined. No one wants to be on a losing side. Anonymity is a cloak for behavior that otherwise would not be tolerated. Now the enemy’s attack strategy has found the power it needs, strong alliances. Once alliances are created justice is demanded. Victory is in sight. Look at the numbers! A compelling force is now at play: fear. Violence is the result. The Bible tells us how evil came to be: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (Ezek. 28:15).2

The Pursuit of Perfect Justice

The concept of justice evokes many things: law, truth, fairness, respect, healing, peace, closure, restitution, reward. We can become absorbed in the pursuit for justice and bitter at its absence. A relentless quest for fairness may consume and distract. Justice is the first order of business in heaven. All will be made right, made whole again. Does this sound familiar? Have you seen similar plans of attack in various forms throughout Earth’s history? Can you spot it in the Bible?  

Isaiah Penned a View of the Future

There will be a day in which the enemy will no longer distract and scheme from the shadows. “Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?” (Isa. 14:16, 17).

As Earth continues to push God out of its life, and He reluctantly removes His protective arms from around it, turmoil will worsen. No matter what happens, we must stay on task.

Let us awaken! Do not be distracted; there is work to do. Focus on our mission and push the message out to a dying world. Be astir. 

Edlyn E. Aldridge writes from Dayton, Ohio.

1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1868), vol. 1, pp. 260.

2 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ã 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.