"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evin in the heavenly realms... 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." (Ephesians 6:12, 18)
As I was driving to various schools this morning, I was listening to my ipod blast "The Gates of Delirium" by Yes (I have ripped every Yes CD of mine onto my ipod). The 21 minute song is basically the depiction of a war. As I listened, I reflected on many recent experiences I have been having.
Could it just be that I am in the midst of a challenging time in my professional life, and just have to work through it? I suppose it could be. But I wonder if there is something more going on right now. You see, not only am I a huge Yes fan, I am a JRR Tolkien fan, and have read The Lord of the Rings probably 15 times. It resonates with me because evil is not shrouded, that is the source of evil, the dark lord, is in the open, so to speak. Frodo knows he is fighting against a real evil. He is awakened from his pastoral existence in the Shire to that realization. Now in LOTR Frodo has a most critical part to play, but he also recognizes that we are all in the battle, all playing a part, whether it be a moth that Gandalf speaks to at Isengard, or a returning King in the form of Aragorn. Tolkien recognized this as well, as in one of his letters, he speaks of the hidden depth, the reality of the spiritual nature of human interactions. He understood, for example, what he meant when Jesus says that when you do something for the least, you do it for Him. It is the unseen reality. It is a strike in a battle for God and against evil.
Well, I feel as if I am in the midst of a battle at the moment. I have been tempted to rage, and confrontation, and just throwing up my hands and walking away. But then I reflect on the Ephesians statement and realize that I may be on the verge of a victory in the unseen battle, but am being confronted as Watchman Nee says in The Normal Christian Life, to look in the wrong direction. Will I keep my eye on the prize, the furthering of the Kingdom of God (as I understand it), or will I allow my pride, my rights, my whatever to allow a victory for the enemy? I have to choose, and I have to be prayerful and alert, and keep on praying. You see, the attacks can come from the saints themselves. But if I am prayerful in the Spirit, and I am alert, recognizing that I am tempted to look in the wrong direction and that there are bigger things potentially at stake, and if I pray for the saints themselves who are potentially a part of the attack, perhaps I will be given the honor of making "known the mystery of the gospel."
The battle is not a metaphor. The battle rages.
It is hard to see something that apparently many others do not see particularly when you think it is a critical part of the "mystery of the gospel." To see others being encumbered in the larger fight for the truth to the point of being a tool of the other side is difficult and obviously is not an easy thing to point out to them. So I need courage and I need wisdom. I need to be alert and I need most of all to be prayerful. Please be prayerful too.