Monday, May 16, 2005

Walking Alone

"You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on his own legs--to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that is ts growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot 'tempt' to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

Letter from Screwtape to Wormwood, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis.

As with all of Lewis' books, I had to read this section a few times to really let the message sink in. There is so much that I would like to say about this passage, but I really don't know where to begin.

Upon reading this chapter, the imagery that comes to my mind immediately is that of a toddler beginning to walk. Once the almighty, parental hand is removed from his back, he may take a step or two, but he begins to weave and wobble until he tumbles down, only to look up and around until mom or dad is in sight.

And, of course, I have to think of myself. Recently, when asked by a friend to describe where I am in my walk with God right now, my reply was this: numb. Don't get me wrong, I know that God is there. I know that He has brought me to this place. I have no doubts that He has plans for me, and I am very contemplative about Him and Christianity right now. But head and heart often go their separate ways, as mine have in the past several months. I have no desire to pray, and when I do pray, my words are void and empty. Dear God, blah blah blah blah blah Amen. I have no desire to read my Bible. I've tried to crack it open a few times, but to no avail. My mind drifts and I may as well have never opened it to begin with. But, most importantly, I have no desire to really seek Him. But I desire to have those desires back.

Right now, I am that toddler. I attempted a few steps by myself and I fell. I'm sitting on my butt, looking up and around trying to find my Father.

But where do I go from here? I can't just give up and try to never walk again; however, I seem uncomfortably content with where I am right now. Stubborn. I'm just gonna sit here until He comes back. Then I'll try to walk again. I may not like being stagnant, but it's better than putting myself out there to fail.

But I don't even think that my fear is failure. I've never been afraid of that before. So, why now? I haven't been on some mountaintop and this is my valley. My journey for the past two years has been more of a plateau, and I am recently realizing that. Yeah, I'd take a valley. Especially if that meant that I had recently been on a mountaintop.


At 6:26 AM, Blogger Tony Arnold said...

I love C.S. Lewis, and The Screwtape Letters is one of my all time favorites. I found the book one of the scariest I had read. Not because it deals with devils communicating and plotting, but because it revealed the very subtle ways that Satan works on me and how I let him into my daily life in seemingly innocuous ways. Lewis presented a mirror that reflected the devil in me. I know this is a little off target from your blog, but I couldn't resist commenting on the book's effect on my life.


At 9:03 AM, Blogger Amanda said...

No, Tony, it's fine.

The book has revealed a lot about me, too. We've been reading it in life group, and the part that is hitting me the hardest is all of the little distractions that Satan can put up to keep you from any sort of spiritual discipline.

I've been so guilty of that lately, and I can't even seem to read or pray or even listen to a sermon without my mind drifting off in a million directions.

I think C.S. Lewis was a genius to come up with this kind of concept for a book.


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