Sunday, February 19, 2012

Soldier of Christ: Spiritual Battle: the Desert

Ah, the BATTLE. Where we encounter two armies that charge into the field. Where the battle rages. Where swords severe limbs completely and axes cut through helmets. Where one fights savagely and slaughters the other. And as the battle progresses, someone else loses their left hand. In the middle of the grotesque battle, one soldier spots another rider on his horse and deals with him accordingly...I arranged this from an excerpt from the script from Braveheart.

The battlefield of everyday life is a real thing. We have to learn how to practically fight to be Christian...and yet the Spiritual Battle is a very real thing too; we may find ourselves blinded by the madness of it all, blinded by the fact that we are at war with ourselves; our own emotions are under attack, they are dried up and put into a "desert" like state to the point of not being able to discern what ought to be done and what our Commander Jesus Christ is saying.

So what is this dry feeling, this coldness towards God? Why do we sometimes go through it? I am NOT a Catholic spiritual guru nor a spiritual director with years of experience :) but I will give my thoughts on this from personal experience, from what I have read, and what others have shared with me in the past. Because everyone is different, the details will always vary, and yet for the most part this experience is sometimes known as "the desert". The desert is a time of desolation, of solitude, and of apathetic agony. We go through this for various reasons:
  • We may need to be purged from our attachments to worldly things
  • To confront the inner struggle within us
  • To share in the sufferings of Christ
  • God may want you to grow spiritually and learn how to commit to a personal relationship with Him
  • And (following the above 3rd point) in doing so, He will purposely pull away his consolations to teach us to focus on the Gift-Giver, to love HIM rather than the spiritual gifts that He gives us

The spiritual battle, a majority time, is a confrontation with ourselves. Sure we run into people who are just ANNOYING! Believe me, I know. Haha....But really, the question is not, "What prayer do I pray to have this person change?" but rather, "What do I DO to be Christ-like to this person?" "How can I love selflessly?"

We may not feel like being nice or charitable, we may not feel like being like Christ, BUT being Christian is not necessarily based on how we feel but rather on personally and decisively living out our faith even if we don't feel like it.

The everyday Christian walk manifests what goes on spiritually within us. In both places, we encounter ourselves in our brokenness, we encounter our un-Christ-like personalities AND we wage a war against our unorderly passions and train them to be passionate like Christ. In the spiritual life, we wage a war against that part of us that wants to always feel those good warm fuzzy feelings. We try to teach that part of ourselves how to not rely solely on good feelings but to also make the personal decision to love and commit to our prayer lives even if it IS hard. ...God...God will purposely withhold spiritual things from us so we can learn this very lesson.  

Blessed Mother Theresa
St Theresa of Avila
So much more can be said, about different things touched on above, but I will end with this thought. Great saintly people, like these ladies, lived with moments of desolation. They experienced the "desert" of the spiritual life...they didn't feel God all the time, they felt like they were going through the motions. Still, they remained faithful even though they felt like they were talking to a brick wall...why? Because love drove them to train and remain faithful to prayer and to God even if they didn't feel like it. 

This was their battle...and they fought their whole lives to the end.

Any questions? Please feel free to ask. I'll do my best to answer. Do try to consult with your own pastor with spiritual matters :) He can do a better job of talking about your specific situation than I can. I mean, he can meet with you...I...I can only receive your messages and give a response via blog ;p

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