While we're basking in the freedom of religious ranting, I had a thought this morning while pinning my hair back. I was thinking about how I've only finished half a chapter in two weeks and how that's really pathetic, because it's all due to my own procrastination and worse - earnest distractions rooted in wastefulness. Even a certain fear of the honesty of my novel - fictional honesty about me.

I thought about how I've made a completed rough draft of the book into my Lenten goal. (I know, Lent isn't about goals, but I am being honest about what I promised - I wanted to vow, but I didn't. I was afraid, and so I aimed.) There was the thought about Lent, and then zing like a wink of an eye, there was this thought: the devil doesn't want you to finish your novel.

Now let me be clear, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about the devil. I believe he exists as surely as I believe in hell and all its other angels. I have been in that strange place where you know there are spirits and you are afraid you can't tell the good ones from the bad, they are grappling so hard around you. But I don't really feel like the devil has much to do with me. I do a fine job of sinning all on my own; he need take no trouble over my temptation. I am wrong about this, of course. I've been learning in the last few years that the work of the darker spirits has little to do with our own sins and much more to do with using those sins as wedges between us and God. I have a very overworked guilt complex. Much of this has to do with the enormous load of guilt I've earned by sucking really bad as a human. But I have Jesus, you know. And he took that guilt and did something bloody and destructive with it, so it's not my burden anymore. We know this. It's the business of the Cross.

But I still keep sinning in new ways and old, and here's where the little demons come in, the ones I didn't know were scratching at my shoulders until very recently. They hang on my back like the burden I gave away, and they convince me that my shame should keep me from the throne of grace. It's the stupidest logic imaginable. What's the point of grace if we avoid it because of our shame? Grace is for our shame. Thrones are for approaching. So what if I'm crawling on my face weeping. At least I'm there.

The devil has made a hefty business of shaming me away from my Maker. It seems an obvious thing, now that I've made writing a book some kind of an act of faith, that he would turn that into another issue of, 'You're so faithless, you should stay in your solitude and avoid both the book and your Jesus.' Stupid, stupid logic. And so insidiously effective. Of course, I am guilty of procrastination and distraction and fear, but Jesus walked the sod so we would come to him with guilt in hand - and not wait for the sting of it to fade into forgetfulness.

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