Only the barest blue could be seen on the eastern horizon. Artificial light was still bright. The chorus of the birds had begun, however, a myriad of species in the forest announcing the day’s birth.
I woke up early, not too early, and felt a strong call, “Get up and write”. So, I did, for a little bit. But I felt so relaxed this morning, so filled with peace and ease, I felt my eyelids grow heavy, and so I went back to sleep for a little bit. When I awoke again the sun was up, my shamrock wind sock was fluttering wild in the breeze. A junco, with his black hood, was busy munching on some seed.
What a different feeling than the last few days. This ‘thing’ I felt has somehow resolved, or at least retreated, curiously upon coming to some conclusions. There is danger in the ways of the world, terrible aspects of danger. Few things are as pernicious or destructive as those peculiarly Church demons, who are the masters of the game, the special forces of the enemy residing precisely where they are not expected.
The parable is told of the man who had a demon, and cleaned house. The man, however, did not fill the house with anything new and the demon came back with some friends. Such Church can be. Nothing is more destructive than a Church gone wrong, or one that has allowed in some kind of malicious influence. I realize by writing this I am placing myself in some kind of category, one which is not particularly valued by most of society.
That, however, does not dissuade me, for the Desert Fathers talked of Evil and demons as much as they did about disciplines. The modern conversation has neglected the key parts of the Fathers conversation, and has left itself open to guerilla spiritual warfare. Antony was praised for his devotion. His greatest honor seems to be that he actively battled the demons while in the desert. We try to rationalize away the spirit world at times, which is odd, for if we believe in God, in Christ, in miracles, we also must allow for the wider spiritual world. We can’t be spiritual with the nice things, and overly rational in the negative. But, then, this is another indication that the practical theology of the Evangelical Church is works based salvation.
Now, though, I’m off track from my present point. I don’t know what it was I felt for certain, so anything I say on the subject is offered with humility.
A good friend has for a while discussed the progress of this church, and has done much to restore my admiration for many of the people there. I respect her a great deal (in fact she is one of those people who come off as very humble, and then you come to realize what an honor it is to talk with her), so I went on Friday with an open heart and mind. And, as my notes of that evening suggest, I had a very peaceful time. Enough so that thoughts of re-involvement passed into my mind. The next day hell began to open for me, though I wrote it off as weariness, and kept going. On Sunday, the work continued and my defenses collapsed.
What I had felt in the past, what drove me away, and drove others away still is present. I don’t know what it is, but it has ruined marriages, caused depression, frustrated great plans, and has most certainly also killed. There are those who have grace to stay. I did not, and do not, so when I venture near its fury is unleashed, and I take the brunt of it like an RPG in the gut.
I forgot my past and have become overconfident in my training. I’ve always felt the nuances of Good and Evil, since I was young. Growing up it caused a great deal of confusion, because the tendency is always to look inward at what one’s personal faults are. Over time, and risking conversation, one learns that what is felt sometimes is personal, often is external. The details of this I think I’ll go into later, suffice it to say that I’ve been confirmed enough times now to have confidence.
The feeling has always been there, a vague emotion deeply felt, either elation or frustration. Maybe because of this sensitivity I went to a Christian school and felt drawn to Biblical and Theological studies. In these classes I had continual ‘aha’ moments of realization, which pointed out the reasons for my vague feelings. The discontent was brought on by something wrong, something I didn’t know was wrong until I studied. Learning Scripture and theology opened my eyes to the nature of God and his ways, ways which were often not well reflected. So, I continued to study the church, the ways of the Divine, with the impetus not some disconnected intellectual curiosity, rather an powerful emotional sensitivity to what was going on. My whole being was reflecting the world around me, and I had to come to terms with defining this reflection. So, I learned the nuances of discernment, learning what was me and what was not, while at the same time gaining the intellectual insights to put words to my feelings.
Over time, then, I would get a strong sense of something, and with my training be able to pinpoint and respond to what I was feeling. As the feelings grow more adept, my years of school have helped me to respond in a practical way and help to define my understanding to others.
However, the training was nothing more than a framework to attach to the deeper feelings. But, I’ve learned to depend on the framework, to insist upon a rational explanation, a way of practical response. I come off to others, I know, as one with too much arrogance because I want to explain that which I know to be true, and am increasingly unswayed by counter opinions in certain situations. The training, though, cannot explain everything. Even more, I do not have the power or authority to respond, nor the influence to convince others of the need for different responses.
In going on Friday I felt the weight of that which I could not, was not supposed to, fight. What this means for the church, I have no idea. I know that I am pushed away. My rational sense, overconfident, tries to come to terms, to explain how I or they have made mistakes. It is deeper than this, though, and I walked in unawares, sailing into a storm without checking the lines. Others, who I respect, happened to go by recently, and felt the same strong power, which is not of the Godly kind. They confirmed what I suspected.
I don’t know what to do with this, to be honest, for it is not my part I suppose to act. I can learn again to respect my deeper gifts, and while I trust my training it is not the Spirit in my soul. The Spirit enlightens me in other ways, ways which I have learned to manage and understand, but must also know I cannot control. It is the deeper sense which sparks the rest of my learning and being. I lost respect for it. So, I must again keep my wits about me, and let myself relax and trust that the Spirit is indeed working. That is my lesson for the day. The lesson of the last week was that I am significantly less spiritually mature than I suppose. The Way is a long path, and I’m only a few years in walking its direction.