Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Insight from Screwtape

Once again CS Lewis has contributed something timely to some of the previous posts. Particularly concerning the attitude we share and express in “We Shall Not Be Moved”-- the way we live in the Church today is more along the lines that we will not allow the Spirit of God to truly move us, move our hearts, move our spirits, move our emotions.

I’ve pointed out to some that while Satan may not be able to keep us from attending a church service, he can prevent us from getting anything out of it. He does so by focusing our attention, not on the message, or the worship of God, but all the petty annoyances that bug us, irritate us, and distract us—the things that keep us from truly hearing or being moved by God. The hairstyle or clothes of another attendee, the off key singing, the microphone imbalance where someone is too loud, or the powerpoint malfunctions. Satan knows our buttons, and which ones will prevent us from experiencing the real and powerful presence of God. If you know these of yourself, pray that the Armor of God is thicker in those areas, remind yourself coming into the Worship Center that you don’t want to focus on those things, but the Presence and Worship of God.

The demon, Screwtape, offered an interesting insight into the work of Satan in the process. In advising his nephew, Wormwood, about the reawakened spiritual life of his patient, Screwtape gives this advice in chapter 13:

“It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about his new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it… Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition, but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will ever be able to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

Why do we not respond more to God during the times of invitation? Which by the way, are not just for conversion or some extreme confession of sin. I believe this passage may hold some insight for those who have been Christians for a long time. We feel the pull and draw of God, but fail to act on it, fail to respond—and the more we resist and fail to act on it, the less we will ever be able to act on it.

It’s like when we first become believers, we’re responding to anything and everything that God works on us with. But the longer we go, the more we train ourselves that I don’t have to pray as much, I don’t have to go forward anymore, I don’t have to respond like I used to. We are essentially training our hearts to be hardened to the movement of God. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone.

The danger is in the last statement, a description that I’m afraid describes many of us today, and too often myself. The less we act and respond to Him, the less in the long run you or I will ever be able to feel Him, feel His presence, feel His movement and to be moved ourselves. We will become detached from our relationship with God—it will be cool and long-distance.

Then we’ll begin to complain to God—why don’t you talk to me anymore? Why can’t I discern Your Will? Why are you so far from me? When will you return and restore? We ask these as if the problem is primarily His, when it may very well be me. Sadly, that level of brokenness and sense of abandonment is often just what is needed to break the dam we have constructed around our hearts and allow His flood to return and reawaken us.

I pray God you will flood my heart and awaken my spirit. Help me Lord to respond to You, to truly feel You again.

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