We rarely watch movies at home and when we do, it’s not always in one sitting. We started watching the Hobbit series, and you can probably imagine how long it has taken us to get through them. We have completed The Desolation of Smaug where Bilbo Baggins is tasked with finding this very rare stone in an ocean of gold and jewels. And if that wasn’t impossible enough, he has to find it without waking this huge dragon. Here are these brave, heroic, macho, warrior dwarfs who waited outside while they send in this peaceful hobbit to face this dragon. And of course, the dragon wakes, discovers that they are there trying to steal “his” gold and the chase/fight is on. The dwarfs try to bury the dragon in liquid gold which just causes him to become angry and bust out of the cave heading for the nearby village where he plans on reigning down fire and destruction.
We each have “dragons” in our lives that we either choose to face or we try to hide from. And when confronted about this dragon, we are told, “You must slay that dragon!” At first, that sounds like great advice. Yes, whatever issue you are facing that is leading you to sin, causing you to hold back from doing what you should be doing, or holding you back from living righteously, needs to be dealt with and dealt with completely. It does need to be annihilated. You can’t leave any of it just laying around as it will come back.
But just telling someone to, “Go slay the dragon,” can lead to other consequences, harm and destruction if purposeful steps aren’t taken at first. Just like in the movie, attacking the dragon lead to destruction and harm to those who were not involved in the situation. Telling a guy who has a porn addiction to just kill it will cause him to start swinging his sword at anything that moves and cutting down things that won’t lead to victory over porn. He will be so focused on trying to kill anything that looks like the dragon that he will get exhausted and lose strength so that when he does come face to face with his dragon, it has already won and he gives in because he is tired of fighting, tired of cutting down things that don’t matter and defeated even before the next true battle.
This month our “Boon Challenge” is not saying anything negative about another person for thirty days. For some, this is a very little thing and is not that hard of a task. For others, they need a constant reminder and may end up not saying anything at all the whole month. But this is a tool that can be used to help slay our dragons. You may think that a little venting about someone is just a way to get things out, but that venting can lead to bitterness and bitterness is a root that takes a hold and goes deep. Bitterness can then open the door for other dragons to come in and we are so focused on the negative things we see in the person that we don’t see bitterness or the dragons come in. Plus, you miss out on looking at the positive things about others and the good work that God may be doing in them.
The first step in being able to slay our dragons is to be able to recognize them. If we are blinded by other things like bitterness, loneliness, anger, etc., then we won’t be able to see them. Once we are able to identify them, we won’t be going around swinging our sword madly about, exhausting ourselves by the time we actually face our dragon. Instead, we will be ready for the battle when it comes.
So what are the dragons you ask? Dragons are sinful dangers in our life or our path. They can be repetitive temptations that we frequently or even occasionally succumb to. Our dragons can be recognized from afar, but they can also lurk throughout our day or our week, waiting for us to stumble across their hiding spot. It could be as obvious as pornography, and as subtle as a hateful thought towards someone else. It can be as destructive as murder or it can appear to be something that appears to help or take you in the right direction, but will lead you astray. The dragon can be in the path to our freedom, but can often be masked as something enjoyable, challenging, risky and even not harmful. This is why it is so important to be able to identify it early on.
What are some typical dragons? One of the biggest dragons in today’s world is pornography. It may not reveal itself fully at first, it will most likely hide in an “innocent” area and draw you in. One guy Rob met with shared that his love of cars lead to his pornography addiction. He would start looking at cars and then there would be pictures of cars with women next to them and then that would lead to pictures of women. He also shared how his problem quickly became his family’s problem as his frustration towards his daughters and wife increased even though they weren’t doing anything to deserve that frustration. (Remember the destruction of the nearby village above?) It was his frustration about his own actions that he projected on others.
Other dragons can be adultery, or cheap relationships that are focused on short term fulfillment of a temporary desire like hookups and one-night stands. Multiple sex partners in our single-hood can seem harmless, until the reality of it all smacks you in the face 5, 10 even 20 years later when all of a sudden you are faced with an even bigger challenge of healing a brokenness you never expected. It is like the dragon just struck in bits and pieces but ultimately caused a giant destruction in stealth mode. Then you find the love of your life and this brokenness doesn’t allow you to fully connect with your spouse. You can’t understand why you are unable to feel completely intimate with your spouse and this can lead to division and open the door for other dragons to sneak in.
Another step is recognizing where the dragon likes to lurk. If you go down the same path and each time the dragon meets you there, then stop going down that path. Find a different path to take, quite possibly that may mean literal path or action. The man mentioned above had to stop looking at car pictures. This doesn’t seem like a good way to slay a dragon, but it works. The dragon feeds off of getting you to do his desires. He grows stronger each time you give into him. And conversely, he grows weaker when you don’t. So if you know where he is, don’t go there.
The strongest tool in your tool belt, though, is faith. Faith in the One who can slay the dragon completely without fear of being defeated.
Isaiah 27:1 (ESV) In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
By living faithfully, you will be able to recognize dragons as they appear, avoid the ones that mislead you and trust that the Lord will destroy them. This then brings hope to your life and with that, strength to keep moving forward. This strength will help you, step by step, to be healed from the past decisions. This strength will also help you mend those broken relationships that may have been harmed by your battle with the dragon or what you thought was the dragon. This strength, although not of your own, will lead to peace and joy for your life.
Isaiah 27:13 (ESV) And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
What dragons are you facing today? What damage have you caused because you have tried to slay them yourself? How have you seen the Lord work in this area, giving you hope?