Lent Reflection day 31
Yesterday we spoke about the one who walks in spiritual darkness and cannot hear when the good news of God’s light-producing salvation is described to him. But the chapter ended with a hopeful note, that there are times when the person has a sense of God’s love and presence, and if he acts on that sensation, he can experience the peace of a right relationship with God.
In the thirty-first chapter of Unseen Warfare, the authors describe the three reason why a person might not respond to the life giving sensation. The first paragraph of the chapter is so good that I want to read it to you in its entirety:
Those who have realized how dangerous and evil is the life they lead, the devil succeeds in keeping in his power, mainly by the following simple but all-powerful suggestion: “Later, later; tomorrow, tomorrow.” And the poor sinner, deluded by the appearance of good intention accompanying this suggestion, decides: “Indeed, tomorrow; today I shall finish what I have to do, and then, free of all care, will put myself in the hands of Divine grace and will follow unswervingly the path of spiritual life. Today I shall do this and that; tomorrow I shall repent.” This is the net of the devil, my brother, with which he catches a great many, and holds the whole world in his hands. The reason why this net catches us so easily is our negligence and blindness. Nothing but negligence and blindness can explain why, when the whole of our salvation and all the glory of God are at stake, we fail to use immediately the most easy and simple and yet the most effective weapon, namely, to say to ourselves, resolutely and energetically: “This moment! I shall start spiritual life this moment, and not later; I shall repent now, instead of tomorrow. Now, this moment is in my hands, tomorrow and after is in the hands of God. Even if God will grant me tomorrow and after, can I be sure that I shall have tomorrow the same good thought urging me to mend my ways?” Moreover, how senseless it is when, for example, a sure remedy is offered for curing one’s illness, to say: “Wait, let me be sick a little longer!” And a man who delays the work of salvation does exactly this.
That last illustration captures it completely: do you really wish you could be sick for just a little longer when healing is available? But the question Unseen Warfare asks after this is simply: why? Why do people avoid responding to these inner sensations of grace? To quote: The first of these reasons is that our own resolutions are not based on distrust of ourselves and a firm trust in God. In other words, the sensation is often not spiritual, but sentimental, or fearful, or curious. To quote again: The second reason is that in making such resolutions we mostly have in view the beauty and radiance of virtue, which attract our will, however weak and impotent it may be; and so naturally the difficult side of virtue escapes our attention. Everything new is exciting for a day or two, but when hard work is required, many fall away. A man I knew came to faith many years ago, and one Sunday came to church and said to me, “I thought you said everything would be easier if I was a Christian.” He had moved to the hard work stage of the spiritual life, and as it was, he did so very successfully. I had to remind him that I hadn’t say life would be easy, but that it would be true. And finally to quote: The third reason is that if the good of awakening from sinful sleep is not translated into practice, such awakenings do not easily come again; and even if they do come, their effect on the will is less strong than the first time. Indeed, when we turn our back on some good thing once, it’s much easier to do it again and again in the future.
Brothers and sisters, today we come to the thirty-first day of this year’s Lenten fast. Let us not allow any whisper of the Holy Spirit to go unheeded, but use this day to deepen our love for God and attention to His commandments.