The enemy always knows how to get you — he ALWAYS does — if you are not being alert and of a sober mind, the enemy of our souls WILL get you. He is a cunning adversary.
My Mama says it best: “If your enemy knows where you keep your goat, he will get your goat.”
“Get your goat” — In our culture that idiom means to bother, to irritate, to anger or annoy, to get the better of, to throw someone off his or her game…. You see where I’m going with this?
The origins of that phrase are a bit surprising. Dictionary.com tales of its beginnings this way: “This expression comes from a tradition in horse-racing. Thought to have a calming affect on high-strung thoroughbreds, a goat was placed in the horse’s stall the night before the race.” And Phrases.com explains further: “When ne’er-do-wells, who wanted the horse to race badly, removed (the goat), that is, they ‘got someone’s goat’ the horse became unsettled and ran badly.” Wideopenpets.com claims it may also involve cows and milk production; stating that goats also have a calming affect on cows and calm cows produce more milk. “Thus, an enemy ‘getting one’ goat’ would upset the cows and cause them to be less productive.”
While these origin stories are interesting, did you pick up what they were saying? Follow me here… I read words like “unsettled” and “race badly” and “less productive” and “upset”. Are you tracking with me? Are you picking up what I’m laying down?
To better understand how this idiom ties into this lesson we need to look at two things:
1} Our purpose — Why are you here? What has God specifically designed you to do?
2} The “goat” can represent that thing that we are either afraid to give to God or too prideful to give to God. (ie: Is there something that I am willfully withholding from God out of fear or out of pride or for any other reason?)
The cow’s purpose is to produce milk. The thoroughbred’s purpose is to win the race that’s part of what they were created to do — P.U.R.P.O.S.E. Neither of them can fulfill their purposes if they are not at peace, if they are agitated or nervous or upset or afraid, and the goat is what calms them. Are you following me?? Can’t you see how the enemy uses THIS scheme against us to thwart our individual purposes? OK, I know that the age-old serpent doesn’t steal my actual goat, LITERALLY; but from the idiom-standpoint he does “get my goat” EVERYDAY or at least any day that I am not vigilant to stand against him, sober-minded and alert, because he knows where I keep my “goat”.
Satan has studied our habits and propensities — our weaknesses. He and his demon minions have watched our every move from the moment we entered this earth because they HATE us. They are always trying to find a way to take us out of the fight. They hate us because we are made in God’s image and they HATE God. They hate us because God gave us His power when He gave us His Spirit combined with free will. They hate us because God LOVES us so much — so much that He gave His best for us, so we could be reconciled to Him for eternity. God loves us — the devil HATES us; it is that simple.
So, of course, the enemy would want to stop us from fulfilling our God-given purposes, because he knows we are Dangerous to his evil agenda. When he “gets our goat” we do run our race badly; we do become unproductive — at least where it comes to our divine purpose, which is the REAL reason we are on this planet. •Side Note: Don’t you think that God loves us enough that He would want us to be with Him in Heaven unless He had something here on earth SO IMPORTANT that He knows only we — only I, only you — can do?
So, if we are here for a reason, and the enemy can stop us or sidetrack us or blind us to our real purposes by “getting our goats” how do we stop him? How do I stop the devil from keeping me stuck in wrong mindsets that steal my peace because he knows where I keep my “goat”?
First, I have to identify that thing that I keep away from God, the thing that I don’t give Him full control, the thing that really does throw me off my game. We all already suspect what that thing is (if we don’t already KNOW); but we have to get really honest with ourselves.
The first thing that comes to my mind is: My problem is codependency… So the “thing” I keep from God has to be dependence on Him. To be dependent on Him means I have to be fully TRUSTING of Him and that’s where my footing begins to slip…I fear the pain and the uncertainty that He has allowed me to walk through. That pain felt untrustworthy to me; but I’m beginning to see that the REAL thing that I cling to the most is C.O.N.T.R.O.L… “If I had control of my life, I would NEVER choose such painful ways.”
I can get stuck in the uncertainty that the pain and the grief have brought me, certainly; and the enemy KNOWS that. He sees that. That serpent has been watching me and studying me for all my days. He knows well and remembers well the pain and uncertainty of my childhood. He knows that I felt abandoned, because HE whispered those poisonous words in my tiny ears from the tender age of one. For 40 years, I have heard him murmur, in his hushed-tones (that sound so much like my own voice) that I will never be truly safe; that I will always eventually be deserted by the very people who should’ve stayed, and that it will always ALWAYS be my fault. “You are unworthy.” “You are a Draining Drain and you will suck this person dry because that’s what you always do.” “You don’t have what it takes to ‘keep’ them and you never will.”
Dangerous Truths are true things that are taken so far out of context that they become lies. One of the enemy’s favorite weapons is whispering Dangerous Truths…words that have just enough truth to them to be believable, yet so skewed, by the enemy, that they become completely untrue. I can listen to these Dangerous Truths and continue to not recognize them for what they are OR I can ask God to open my ears to what is actually being said and to enlighten my eyes to the bigger picture. If the words that I am hearing and believing do not line up with God’s Holy Word and can’t be backed by specific Scriptures OR they don’t line up with what God has said, specifically TO ME, about me; THEY ARE LIES!
To fight the lies, I can start by following Jesus’ advice of taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Nothing that the enemy does or says will ever naturally be obedient to Christ; that’s why Scripture says “MAKE it obedient to Christ”. I have a responsibility here. This Scripture teaches me that I have a duty, not only to Christ but also to myself, to protect my mind. I have to ask myself: “Do I want to be the one taken captive or do I want to be the one TAKING CAPTIVE?” I DEFINITELY want the latter!
We ARE at war — it is a spiritual war that will continue until Jesus comes back and vanquishes the enemy, when He throws him into the lake of fire. No amount of ignoring or denying that fact will make it not true.
Will I fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12)? Will I run the race with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1)?
Nobody else can fight for MY faith or run MY race, except me.
Or will I allow the enemy to “get my goat” with his whispered Dangerous Truths, leaving me agitated, anxious and unable to live out my Purpose to the fullest?
The answers to those questions all depend on what I will allow to go on in my own mind. Will I marinate in God’s Word or in the enemy’s lies? Will I “take captive every thought” or will I be taken captive?
I am RESPONSIBLE to choose well. I am NOT a victim of circumstances. My life and my mind have been bought and paid for by the most precious of payments — the Blood of the Lamb. God’s Holy Word gives me all of the tools that I need to keep my mind at perfect peace. I MUST submit control of my life to him because He sees the whole picture — He doesn’t get stuck in the “NOW” like I tend to do. Can I give up my desire to be my own god — ordering my life in the safest way possible — OR can I simply believe God’s Word and trust Him to do His job?
I’ll leave you with this question that I’m asking myself:
“Do I want a SAFE life or do I want an ABUNDANT life?”
I choose ABUNDANT!
God — Help me to have eyes that are open to what’s REALLY happening. Help me to not believe Dangerous Truths. Help me to recognize the enemy’s whispers from the moment he breathes into my thoughts. Help me take every thought captive and make it submitted to You. I don’t want the enemy to “get my goat”. I want to recognize that the defenses You have given me are buried in Your Word and I must find those weapons and implement them in my own mind. I must fight the good fight and I know that I am incapable of doing that without Your constant and unfailing help. I’m begging You — do not leave me to my own devices. I LOVE You and, in my heart, I only want what you want — no matter what that looks like or how unsafe that may feel to me in weak moments. I know Your Word is the only TRUTH in this fallen world and I know that You refuse to be anything that doesn’t line up with Your Word. Your Word says that you are GOOD. Help me trust that — especially in the moments when the whispers and the murmurs of the enemy are vying for control of my mind — when those Dangerous Truths are trying to drown out YOUR Truths. I want what you want — and even though I am trembling as I pray these words, I REALLY do mean them. In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, I pray. Amen.