I have to admit: I’m proud of the image I came up for this last week’s sermon. The one about there being arrows and an adversary in that story we are living in—the Sacred Romance we’ve been talking about. I took an image of the “White Witch” from the Chronicles of Narnia movie… and superimposed a broken heart that I tweaked from another site.
All that pride stuff behind, it’s an image that helps me get to this week’s topic: the hindrances and roadblocks to our living in this great “Love Story.” The causes are multiple, as we’ll see. But, chief among them is the fact that our hearts are scarred from past words and experiences… and there’s a distorter of truth out there who wants us to forever live under these “lies.”
As an aside: looking at the image, above, I am struck by the fact that Disney gave us an attractive “White Witch.” And, then, there’s that Turkish Delight she offers: so tasty! It serves as a good reminder, doesn’t it: that the “adversaries” out there are subtle and deceptive—often appearing as our friends and as something desirable in our lives!
More to the week at hand, though.
Excited as I am as we continue to explore this story we Christians find ourselves in, there’s a certain trepidation and caution. I’ve been around enough to know that anything that promises real breakthroughs can also spark real upheaval in people’s hearts and souls.
Even so, as we advance to talk about scarred hearts (and the memories attached to those scars) and a strain of Evil woven into our reality. There’s demons in this stuff! (And here, we are going to have to find some way to affirm that there’s Evil and “demons” in our stories without getting carried away!) Yes, there’s demons in this stuff and “they” are provoked when we ask people to think about the arrows in our lives… and to ask God to enter our pains and do something about these arrows. Whatever Evil is… whatever Satan is (and here, we’ve got to get beyond the guy with the goatee and horns and cape and pitchfork!)… Whatever these things are, there’s something woven into our stories which desires to hold us back. (Just ask the recovering addict who seeks a new life!)
And so I enter this week very prayerfully—leery of the ways some might be provoked and unsettled but ultimately grateful for the power of our God over the slings and arrows and adversaries!
Along these lines, I leave you with a story that Neil T. Anderson tells in his best seller, The Bondage Breaker. (It’s a book, by the way, that many may find of value in this week of letting go of arrows.)
IN MY EARLY YEARS OF understanding, I was asked by a local Christian counselor if I could provide some spiritual assessment of one of his clients. He had given her several psychological tests but never got to the root of her problem. After four years of counseling with no results, he finally considered the possibility that his client could be in some kind of spiritual bondage. During those early years of counseling, she wrote the following prayer to God, then ten minutes later tried unsuccessfully to kill herself with an overdose of pills:
Where are you? How can you watch and not help me? I hurt so bad, and you don’t even care. If you cared you’d make it stop or let me die. I love you, but you seem so far away. I can’t hear you or feel you or see you, but I’m supposed to believe you’re here. Lord, I feel them and hear them. They are here. I know you’re real, God, but they are more real to me right now. Please make someone believe me, Lord. Why won’t you make it stop? Please, Lord, please! If you love me you’ll let me die.
—A Lost Sheep
The kingdom of darkness was far more real to her than the presence of God…
The woman who called herself “A Lost Sheep’’ finally gained some measure of freedom. She was sitting in church one Sunday four years after she wrote her desperate prayer when she sensed God’s leading to write His response to her. This is what she wrote:
My Dear Lost Sheep,
You ask Me where I am. My child, I am with you and I always will be. You are weak, but in Me you are strong. I love you so much that I can’t let you die. I am so close that I feel everything you feel. I know what you are going through, for I am going through it with you. But I have set you free and you must stand firm. You do not need to die physically for my enemies to be gone, but be crucified with Me and I will live in you, and you shall live with Me. I will direct you in paths of righteousness. My child, I love you and I will never forsake you, for you are truly mine.
(from Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, p. 17, 28)