As I mentioned yesterday I’ve been listening to audio books. They’re my newest bedtime companions. I’m currently listening to a book by world renowned Christian writer C.S. Lewis called ‘The Screwtape Letters.’ It’s a Christian book but written as a satire. Each of the 31 chapters is a letter from hell written by one of Satan’s high ranking demons, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood a “tempter in training” here on earth who is working to secure souls for Satan.
Each letter is a response to Wormwood’s reports on his progress or lack there of, in securing the soul of his assigned patient and keeping it from the enemy.(God) Screwtape’s responses offer approval or disapproval of his methods and offer insight and suggestions on how to better secure the soul of his patient. It is really a great novel and a pleasure to listen to. The narrator, John Cleese of Monty Python fame adds just the right touch of humor to the reading.
The letters reminds me of the ongoing unseen battle between good and evil we face each day and the countless tactics the devil employs in his fight for our souls, all the lies, deception, distractions and temptations he throws our way often disguised as soothing or pleasurable experiences. The devil and his minions are constantly playing us, tempting us, working overtime to avert our attention from the truth.
I’ve long believed in the power of good and evil and the influence both exert on us as we pass through life. My church experience on Sunday is a good example. Sunday my own personal “Wormwood the tempter” made his presence known.
For the first time since I’ve returned to church I found myself easily distracted and unable to focus on the Word. As I sat there reading ‘My Daily Bread’ I’d catch myself thinking about my fantasy football team, the line-up changes I still needed to make when I got home, what a pretty color dress the lady a few pews away was wearing and how curvacious the woman doing the first reading was. Thoughts I had absolutely no business having in church. It was bad. I didn’t want to be entertaining these thoughts but the temptation was just too great. I just couldn’t seem to keep my mind on the mass.
It was about that time that I remembered the Screwtape Letters and began thinking about Wormwood the tempter and other’s like him, hard at work trying to sway us from thinking about God. Even that became a distraction as I began imagining hundreds of tempter demons hovering around every person in the church including the priest! But then I remembered that demon’s can’t be inside a church, because it’s holy ground, which led me to think about whether that was true or just something I’d picked up from the countless movies on the supernatural I’d seen through the years. I finally decided that our personal tempter demon could indeed be in church or anywhere with us as they are a part of our conscious being.
All of these distracting thoughts took no more than a few minutes and finally in a moment of clarity I was able to realize what was happening and rid my mind of the distractions. I did pretty well for the remainder of the mass with only a few momentary diversions. I tell you though, it was a struggle. The temptation to give in to distractions can be quite overwhelming. Because temptation can comes in a variety of forms, it isn’t always easily recognizable, besides we are curious beings by nature and therefor leave ourselves open to temptation. At times we can’t seem to help ourselves.
The reality is that most people want to live good, wholesome lives. The key to accomplishing this and winning the ongoing inner struggle is awareness. Try to stay focused and don’t let your mind wander. A wandering mind is a dangerous thing. Teach yourself to constantly be on guard and mindful of Satan’s manipulative ways. He’s a trickster and can be quite devious. He is a master of deception and can easily fill your head with deliciously wicked thoughts which can just as easily become actions. Beware of him. Sometimes you can’t see him coming until your already neck deep in trouble. Only you have the ability to stop him from turning your head, no one else can do it for you.
Just a thought…