There is no question that we battle evil at all times. Some choose to see evil as some sort of devil or demon that haunts us. Others choose to see evil as a state that has persisted on the earth since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. No matter how you define the presence of evil on earth, we can defeat it. Ironically, we can only do this by admitting, as the desert monk did, that it is more powerful than we can ever imagine.
After we come to this admission, we can say as the Psalmist does, “I will lift UP my eyes – from where my help comes.” When we find ourselves in a situation that we are powerless to control or defeat, we must call upon our God because He has the power to defeat ALL enemies. We are so tempted to believe that we can do it on our own.
When my son Jeremy was about two years old his mother always stressed to him how important it was to hold his hand when he crossed the street. Our oldest was always a very resourceful person so he decided that he could hold his own hand. When it came time to cross the street or to walk in the mall he would clasp both hands together and say, “ I hold my own hand.” That didn’t work too well. He did not realize that holding his own hand defeated the very purpose of holding hands. His mother held his hand to protect him, not to control. In the mind of a two year old, holding his hand was control and he didn’t want it. Most of us are more than two years old, and yet we still don’t want to be controlled. Like the commercial where the man is doing all kinds of crazy things saying, “I got this,” but really he doesn’t have anything. He’s just simply out of control. We cannot control the sources of evil on this earth without looking to the source of our blessing, of our hope, and our power.
The source of our power is found when we humbly cry out, I can’t do this on my own. The psalmist even goes further and plainly admits that the source of power comes from above and not from within himself. I fear that today, as we face the tensions and difficulties of our time, we are looking so deeply inside of ourselves that we are forgetting the source of all healing, peace, understanding, and that life really is from above. This does not mean that we should not do our best and muster together all of the resources that God has blessed us with to defeat this plague that has beset us. However, as we do it we should never forget that all that we are and all we will ever be comes from God. He is our TRUE source of ALL.
In these times we must put our trust in our Source. We should do all that we can with the knowledge that we have to fight this situation, but in the end we must lean on the strength of God. He will see us through to the end. The times that lie ahead may be difficult, but God will be with us.
LORD, we acknowledge you as the source that guides us and sustains us. In these difficult times we ask you to guide us to put ourselves aside and allow you to steer our course. Forgive us Lord for trying to be our own gods, and convict us to follow your guidance so that we may find the ultimate source of our victory.
He also said, ‘Satan does not know by what passion the soul can be overcome. He sows, but without knowing if he will reap, sometimes thoughts of fornication, sometimes thoughts of slander, and similarly for the other passions. He supplies nourishment to the passion which he sees the soul is slipping towards.’
———–Abba Matoes of the Desert
The wise old man gives us a very important truth, Satan is not all knowing. Far too many people give the evil equal standing with God. Emphatically, he is not! We need not worry that the devil can overcome us without our help. In every sin, we become his partner by enjoying the forbidden fruit. The passion is as much our enemy as the evil one. Our challenge is to recognize those areas of our lives that make us vulnerable to sin, and to give those to God. That task is not an easy one, but it can be accomplished by a lifetime of spiritual disciplines. All of us must seek God in prayer every day, and know that He will be found. The real gem we get from the old man is that the devil does not know our sore spot, and we, through prayer, can find it and give it to God.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
——-C. S. Lewis
This is always been a favorite of mind.
Saint Macarius of Egypt and the Cherub. Venerable Saint Macarius (ca. 300- d. 391, Scetes, Egypt) is one of the most prominent desert Fathers of the Church, known also as Macarius the Great. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
‘A mother came here with her little child, possessed with a devil, who said to his mother, “Get up, woman, let us go away from here.” She replied, “I cannot walk any further,” and the little child said to her, “I will carry you myself.” I wondered at the devil’s tricks and how eager he was to make them flee.’
——-sayings of the Desert Fathers
I would be the first to say that this story is a myth, but we must be reminded that myths and legends put forth great truths. The actuality of this story is that evil can appear to be helpful. If all that was destructive in our society would hurt and destroy, then most of us would never go in that direction. Sin, evil comes in various disguises that fool us into thinking that it is the proper thing to do. The wisdom of the fathers is that evil will do anything to get away from good. It will promise success, fame and fortune but it will always flee from what is good and right.