Behind the veil of ordinary physical reality rages a high-stakes spiritual battle. We are both the subjects of this warfare, and its front line. And even so, it’s easy for us to remain oblivious of it.
Where do we primarily encounter this spiritual battle? What is really going on, behind that thin veil?
In the midst of the warfare, one phrase thunders and echoes for all to hear – “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Herein is the heart of the great conflict, as the battle rages over each person’s ultimate choice. With each and every choice we make, we become either citizens and flag-bearers of God’s Kingdom, or slaves of the devil and of sin.
And in this field of battle, the most pivotal events are not so much the great “heroic” choices as the little everyday choices we so easily dismiss. It’s not so much the great acts of piety and the long stretches of prayer, but the little regular moments of faithfulness, that determine who we truly are. It’s whether we allow the little attachments – ego, entertainment, pleasure, comfort – to control us, or whether we can be detached from them for the sake of God’s will and of Love, that really proves whether we walk in freedom or in the chains of slavery.
How necessary do we truly believe those little luxuries to be? Those little innocent, “well-earned” distractions we crave – what would we give up in order to keep them? Do we choose to make time for prayer first, or do we “need” to take it easy on ourselves first, check updates here and there, take time to zone out as we pursue our little distractions? What are our true priorities?
In his little book, Spousal Prayer, Deacon James Keating notes that, “Choosing disordered attachments (sins) keeps the ego in charge and feeds it the distractions it craves – distractions that keep you enslaved to them” (29). He goes on to state bluntly, “We love pleasure more than God” (29). This is where we all begin, in our fallen state. This is what makes it so difficult to move forward in our relationship with God. We have a lot more detachment to undergo than perhaps we’ve realized, for we cannot allow even the most “innocent” attachment to remain. “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven; if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell” (C. S. Lewis, Intro to The Great Divorce). The only thing we can and must do is give up all our desires and attachments, giving our whole selves to God. The spiritual battle is fierce, and anything that does not bring us towards God takes us away from Him. To believe there exists any safe, neutral ground is both false, and dangerous.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:25)
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