A quiet lesson keeps popping up this week. It is one I know well but I seem to be regularly reminded of it, for reasons I’m not yet sure. This past Saturday Fr. Greg preached on being prepared for spiritual battle. As violent as it may sound, it is something that we will all face. Not as grand warriors going off to face armies of darkness, but more likely in our living rooms and offices faced with challenges to our consciences and souls. Faced with the questions of taking the easy route or the good one.
For this is always the questions: how then shall we live? Living well is always the harder path, and the devil desires that we do not live at all. We so often forget as American Christians that the devil is a roaring lion that seeks to destroy souls. We forget that there are things at work which we cannot see, that the devil and his minions roam this earth with the singular desire to destroy our soul. In our temptation and discouragement we forget to that the angels fight against these wicked creatures. Fr. Greg reminded us of this this Sunday, that not only do we know how the battle ends, for in eternal history it is already over, but that the angels outnumber the demons two to one.
This reminded me of one of the sayings of the Desert Fathers. It goes something like this: There was one a monk who was struggling with a sin. He fought the temptations and kept losing to it. He went to his mentor and confessed his struggles. His spiritual father told him to go home and pray. Being obedient his did so but the temptations still assailed him. Discouraged and feeling as though he had failed he returned to his father and confessed again. “Go home and pray,” the father said. He did the same and was beset with temptation and fell again. He returned a third time and the father brought him to the roof of the building and to the west the young monk saw many demons, thrashing and gnashing their teeth desiring the destruction of all people. The young monk shuddered with fear. The elder put his hands on the shoulder of the younger and said “take heart and looking to the east.” There was a myriad of angels all prepared for battle, far out numbering the demons. The elder reminded the younger, that though at times it may seem like we fight our spiritual battles alone we are backed by a myriad of angels and no demon can overcome this.
I was again reminded of the myriad the other morning when I read of Elisha and his servant being protected by a mountain full of horses and chariots of fire. Regardless of our struggle and temptation that myriad is there with us, by the grace of God.
The fact is that life can be hard and our walk with God even harder, but we do not venture at this alone. Not only was the church designed as a corporate body, it is to operate as a living organism. Though there are institutional aspects, her members are there to support each other in whatever is needed in the moments, but beyond those we also have spiritual support. Each moment, and each day, beyond our view we are walking with the angels of the Lord. So take heart friends, we are not alone. Put on the whole armor of God, pray and trust that though you do not see them a myriad of angels walks with us.