I’ve written a few blog posts in the style of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Always based on “current events” in my spiritual life, they’re one of my favorite things to write. The first two times, I let the posts speak for themselves, and did not explain their contexts in my own words. This time, I’m deviating from that, because things have gotten batsh*t crazy.
I believe in a spiritual realm, in angels and demons in some form. Being a Christian, I can’t be purely materialist. But I have always been skeptical when people attribute hardships and other unpleasant things to demonic activity. People seem to do a really good job of screwing things up on their own, without the help of Satan or any other such beings. But then, on occasion, a series of events will occur, or several factors will fall into place, all in a way that challenges mere coincidence.
In recent weeks, I have become aware of some sinful habits that I’ve acquired, built up, and ingrained with regards to my thought life. Several factors contributed to this awareness: a similar conviction in a friend, church sermons, and rereading (for the third or fourth time) The Screwtape Letters, all supplemented by promptings by the Holy Spirit. It was high time that I take more responsibility for my thoughts and try to take back some of the control I have lost. This is especially critical when my mind is wandering as I try to fall asleep at night. By the grace of God, I’ve been determined to fix my thoughts on the good, lovely, honorable, etc.
Due to my materialist leanings, I thought that my greatest struggle in this would be against myself and my stubborn, sinful desire for control and having things my way. That has definitely come into play. In my first evening of this serious endeavor, however, in the battle over where my thoughts would settle, there seemed to be something else there, some faint, unholy presence a little outside myself. I finally fell asleep and awoke still exhausted, thinking, “Well. That was more difficult than I expected.”
The next night, still determined, I journaled and prayed and read some of Till We Have Faces and cried because OF COURSE I DID and then fell asleep to Rifftrax playing on my computer. (Falling asleep to a familiar movie is helpful because my brain is able to focus on it without having to think much about it, if that makes any sense. Rifftrax is not the most spiritually uplifting thing, but it’s humorous and usually “family-friendly.”) Easy-peasy, right?
. . .
Actually, I had a series of strange dreams, one of which involved hanging out with Lady Gaga because … ? That was nothing, however, in comparison to the incredibly vivid sex dream that I had. I don’t know who I was with, and it wasn’t even me, really. Well, it was me, but in another person’s body, or something like that. Anyway, it was still my perspective and my experience. I woke up at 4-something am, well before my alarm, and, after some time spent pondering what the hell just happened, I fell back to sleep. (God be praised, because that was quite unlikely.)
When I woke up again, far from rested in both mind and body, I was pissed. Not out of sexual frustration or disappointment that the dream hadn’t been real, but because I know that I have been trying my best to keep that kind of stuff out of my head, to do the right thing. I know that I have no control over my dreams. Which means that what occurred during the night was no fault of mine, and certainly wasn’t from God, and was seriously undermining my efforts.
Which begs the question, which of you fiendish bastards is doing this?
It also forces me to wonder whether my mind is a lot more powerful and important than I always believed, if there’s such a huge fight going on for it.
And it also has made me even more committed to this. I know that I belong to Christ, and not only is He more powerful than all the fiends of hell, but they only have any power at all by His permission. This isn’t just a personal, individual, solitary attempt to do some vague idea of what’s “right.” This is me seeking to do God’s will, determined to do all that I can to keep the powers of Hell from separating me from God or from corrupting the good in my life. Ultimately, though, my success depends not on my efforts, but on the grace of God, and He is faithful and will not let me fail utterly.
So, to Screwtape and Benoth and all their ilk, I say, in a terrible paraphrase of Ransom in Perelandra, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son ,and of the Holy Ghost, piss off—I mean, Amen.”