Standing firm against the first fiery darts of the enemy.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
A bit presumptuous of me, being neither a theological scholar nor the slightest bit wise, to share with you something of the nature of our enemy. It’s the brutal reality that prompts me to write this, nothing more.
Since my last entry, I’ve spent more than a few hours educating myself about child sex trafficking in the U.S and the non-profit organizations that help the children who are victims of this horror. I’ve spent time talking with people who successfully operate non-profits and also counselors, to understand what children need most who have been victims of sex slavery. In all essence, it comes to this, again and again: we strive not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness. My entry today is to encourage you to own Ephesians 6:13-18; to heed these words from St. Paul, to truly understand, not just in a poetic sense, but to stand against the powers of darkness. Our Mighty God, our Father of Lights provides the armor, but we must put it on!
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Apart from Holy Scripture and the wisdom of the saints, it is to J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis that I attribute much of my spiritual growth and understanding. The imagery from Lord of the Rings is befitting to illustrate the weapons of our enemy, those flaming arrows and wicked hands; our enemy is savage, consuming and demoralizing... and yet -- our enemy cannot comprehend the Light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” -St. John 1:5
This verse spells victory, if we did not already know of Christ’s victory over death upon His crucifixion, burial and glorious Resurrection. Only the Light knows and understands the darkness. It is because of the Light that darkness is overcome, only because of Christ using a weapon of the enemy, that the enemy is overcome.
My own experience teaches me important lessons about spiritual warfare and the lesson driven home recently is this: the first flaming arrow of the enemy is to shock and overwhelm the senses in order to render paralysis and inactivity.
Take notice of how you or those around you react to daily news. I’ve observed that some pass over harsh headlines, while others dwell on them. Some tune in to follow courtroom sagas for care or concern or entertainment and others look away entirely, either in denial or apathy. And, most of all, when it comes to really ugly stuff, like crimes against children, some are rendered dazed and numb while others sob and fall depressed. I’ve been in that dazed and numb category too long. It’s in recognizing this first flaming dart of our enemy that allows us to dig in to higher ground.
I am blessed to know some beautiful souls -- people that have overcome great trials in life and use their energies and time to bring joy, solace and comfort to other hurting souls. Here is a beauty on this earth! This is the God-given light in the human soul that no darkness can overcome. You can find this Light in the darkness of communist prisons, the death camps of Nazi Germany and upon the cross at Golgatha. Darkness cannot overcome it, will never overcome it. This is the Truth and what should be gird about our waist as we contemplate wickedness around us. We can fall to our knees in despair or we can stand firm.
Our enemy would have us in despair because there we are useless for the Kingdom of Heaven. Despair is a ploy of satan, a tool to keep you from responding to the Truth of God. According to Tolkien, despair is a mistake, for no one knows all ends; hope is born of Jesus Christ. Did those not despair who loved our Lord and witnessed him murdered on the cross? And were they not mistaken to have despaired?
One of my many faults is to do nothing in the face of wickedness... to give in to shock or fear, disbelief or despair. I’ve learned that to do nothing is to do something for the enemy. And so, I’ve resolved to dig in...to get past that first fiery dart and make it to higher ground where I can be useful to God. Please pray for me, a sinner.