One of my favorite cartoon characters a few years ago was a little boy named Pasquale, brought to life by cartoonist Pat Brady in the strip Rose Is Rose. One of the on-going battles Pasquale faces is with the dreaded Drain Monster. The Drain Monster lives in the bathtub drain (although he has been known to surface under the bed on occasion) and has a particular preference for little boy’s toes. Thus, he must be outsmarted – at which Pasquale is an expert. He is regularly aided in his battles by his ever-present guardian angel. Pasquale’s fear is that of every little boy confronted by a dark hole with no bottom – that he will be sucked down it into oblivion. Or if not oblivion, some other place that he doesn’t want to go. It has not yet occurred to him that he is too big to be sucked anywhere close to oblivion. He is much like the rest of us – just because fear is irrational does not make it any less real.
It occurs to me that many of my temptations and fears fall into the category of the Drain Monster – irrational, but real. I forget how big I am in Christ – and that I have help in the battles needing to be fought. And when I forget, I get distracted and terrified, and then sidelined by that terror. That is the nature of our enemy – he is a terrorist of the first magnitude. His expertise is in the push and pull of paranoia, hoping against hope that we won’t notice what is real. The illusion of his power is so great that we forget what is true – about us, about Jesus, about the victory of the cross. He is the master of the shell game – until we notice that he has nothing under any of the shells!
It is important to notice the cracks – the drain holes – that occur in our lives. Those are the places of temptation and fear. Often just noticing them will help. Cracks occur in the spaces between busy-ness. They occur at the end of a long-season of commitment. They splinter off of a job well done. They show up in great weariness. They fracture off of a fragmented life. And they each are home to their own dragons, seeking to terrorize and tempt us. So, we must arm ourselves - we must be on guard against the fears and temptations; we must put on integrity from the inside out; we must keep in close relationship with Jesus; we must stand in the full reality of our life in Christ; we must make skillful use of the Word of God in our battles with the dragons. And we must pray. And we must not forget how big we are in Christ – and that we have help in time of need!