There was not much reflecting on Lent going on in my mind on day 17, just like there wasn’t much on day 16. “Not surprising” I thought to myself. “I’m really busy today, with a full schedule at work that is going to take some creative jiggering of employees to get everything done with the least possible inconvenience to everyone involved”. The day did work out well, but required nearly all of my thought, allowing little time to ponder spiritual things.
And when I did remember that we are in the midst of Lent and try to put things into a spiritual perspective, my mind was quickly filled with thoughts of the health issues of my granddaughter and the pain and fear that my daughter and her husband are experiencing. When I get those thoughts put to rest I remember the tangled process of getting my car fixed. I was rear-ended several weeks ago and the process of getting my car repaired is frustrating to say the least. And then there are the handful of other issues which divert my mind or simply weigh it down, so that there is very little time devoted to thinking about God.
Then it hit me as I was forming beds around some shrubs in my front yard: there might be somebody who doesn’t want me to be thinking about spiritual things. There just might be a personality which is very steadily working to keep my mind focused on things other than God and my relationship to Him.
Who would want to do a thing like that? Uh, the devil maybe? But what does the devil care about me? He is only a created being, far from omni-anything. I’m certain that the hideous depredations of Boko Haram, ISIS, the awfulness that is North Korea, the war in eastern Ukraine and the culture of rape in India, Congo, and elsewhere are much more likely to whet the palate of Old Scratch than my puny self. It doesn’t make sense that he would waste his infernal time trying to turn my attention away from God.
Perhaps that’s what “junior tempters” such as were described in C. S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” are up to. I can easily see some junior tempter, ‘Drizzleschmertz’ we’ll call her, employing all of the skills that she learned at the Boarspittle Demonic Academy in an effort to win favor from her overseer, Schnodsmutl, who will eat her soul if she does not deliver my own to whet his appetite. I am nobody in particular except for being a beloved child of the Living God, so they would not invest much into capturing me. Bigger guns for bigger prey.
And then there are the two books by Frank Peretti, “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing The Darkness”. Those two books are not very much in favor now because we’ve all become too cool to believe that our liberal social institutions might be demonically directed. If Peretti were to write a similar book in which conservative individuals and institutions were the ones influenced and even directed by demons, and in many instances he could probably make a coherent case for such a theme, his books would probably once again be on the best seller list. The politics of the thing mean nothing to me. Peretti painted a vivid picture of spiritual warfare that in my opinion still has something valid to say to the world about the unseen component to many of the awful things that we see today. I have no problem with the idea of a scaly, beaked demon with sharp claws tugging at tufts of wiry bristles growing out of its jowled, slobbering face whispering distractions into my ear as I try to focus on God.
Do I believe anything like this is happening to me? Yes, no, I don’t know, maybe. I can’t see the supernatural, so how can I speculate on what it looks like and what it’s doing? Do I believe that such a picture is impossible? No, I do not believe such a thing. Do I believe that such a thing is happening to me today? Again, maybe. I can’t rule it in and I an’t rule it out.
So maybe I’ll just assume that I am a prize in some supernatural struggle and force myself to choose a side. Of course, I choose God’s side. And how will I do that? Bend my mind toward good things and try to be aware of what’s happening around me. Love God and Love my neighbor. No, not just formula; really do it. Even if the turd neighbor who annoys the snot out of me is impossible to love. Love him/her anyway and keep my eyes, ears and mind open. No telling what I might learn.