“As the hero undertakes preparation for the great battle ahead, we must prepare ourselves for to defeat the Adversary who constantly preys on our past fears and hurts.”
Changing Our View of the World
At his point in a well told story, the hero has come to view the world in a different way. He has come to view his role in the world differently. Everything now takes on a completely different meaning. The hero has not become a different person, but he has become more of the person God meant for him to be, closer to finding his true self and his true purpose.
There is a wonderful scene in the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Frodo, the hobbit, has successfully delivered the ring of power to a council in Rivendell. The council has been called to decide what action must be taken, because the mere existence of the ring threatens the peace and security of the world. It is decided that the ring must be destroyed but the only way to do that is to throw it into the fire from which it was made, deep into the territory of the Adversary.
The council argues over who will go, each having an agenda beyond the destruction of the ring. There is a great deal of argument, threats, innuendo, jealousy, and greed on display.
Frodo watches all this silently and then, in barely more than a whisper, he proclaims “I’ll go.”
Gandalf the wizard, a mentor character played by British actor Ian Mckellan, hears Frodo below the din and gives us a smile that expresses gratitude, satisfaction, and deep sadness all at the same time. Only a highly accomplished actor could have pulled this off and McKellan does it beautifully.
You see, Frodo is the only one that has any chance of succeeding because only Frodo now sees the world differently. All the other players are concerned with temporal matters, their own power, prestige, or the respect of their people. But Frodo is the humblest of the lot. Not only does he not have ambitions beyond getting back to his home and his books and his fireside, but only Frodo sees that the destruction of the ring is more important than all of these. He has let go of his identity, his ego, and is learning to embrace his essence. Only Frodo has come to learn that he is not here for himself, he is not even here for other hobbits or men or dwarves or elves, he is here for the world.
“In the year in which king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, sublime and exalted, and the things that were under him filled the temple. The Seraphim were standing above the throne. One had six wings, and the other had six wings: with two they were covering his face, and with two they were covering his feet, and with two they were flying. And they were crying out to one another, and saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!’ And the lintels above the hinges were shaken at the voice of the one crying out. And the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe to me! For I have remained silent. For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live in the midst of a people having unclean lips, and I have seen with my eyes the King, the Lord of hosts!’ And one of the Seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a burning coal, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and he said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips, and so your iniquities will be taken away, and your sin will be cleansed.’ And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send?’ and, ‘Who will go for us?’ And I said: ‘Here I am. Send me.’” The Book of Isaiah 6:1-8
Atonement with the Father
To reach this point in our journey we have to let go of some things that keep us from moving forward. To let go of our ego is to let go of all the hurts of the past, real and imagined, that continue to gnaw at our souls. We have to reconcile with God the Father.
It is popular to think of God as having almost a split personality. Christian nay-sayers will compare the vengeful, wrathful God of the Old Testament with the loving, benevolent God of the New. “which is the real God?” they will ask.
But it is a nonsensical question born from ignorance. God simply “is.” The great “I Am” who spoke to Moses is the same God who answered the Pharisees by saying “before Abraham was, I AM.” The Holy Gospel according to John 8:58
To let go of our frustration and anger is to have faith that the Father is merciful and then to rely on that mercy. “Everything is possible in him who has strengthened me.” Paul’s Letter to the Philipians 4:13
The Chains of the Past
In our spiritual journey we have experienced a revelation that changes everything. It changes our view of the world, our relationship with others, and our goals and expectations. We are not here for ourselves. We are not here to gain success and power and wealth as the secular world sees it. We are here for others, we are here for the salvation of the world.
This realization means a death to our old selves. Much like baptism, which is itself a spiritual journey, we are called to put off our old selfish nature and put on a new nature of self sacrificing love.
We must do this to prepare for the greatest ordeal we still have to face.
This is a life changing moment, this is the moment that will decide our success or our failure in our quest to find our true self. If we are not willing to sacrifice our self-centered past, we will not be strong enough to defeat the temptations of the adversary. That old self is a weakness, it prevents us from going forward.
In the 2012 remake of the movie, “Total Recall,” the hero is told by a mentor, “It is each man’s quest to find out who he truly is, but the answer to that lies in the present, not in the past… The past is a construct of the mind. It blinds us. It fools us into believing it. But the heart wants to live in the present. Look there. You’ll find your answer.”
To move forward and discover who we truly are, we have to let go of that identity we have built up around ourselves to protect us from being hurt, it is of no use to us at this point in our journey. In fact, holding on to it can do us more harm than good. Our greatest treasures are often guarded by our greatest fears. Overcoming those fears gives us access to the treasure we will need to help us in the fight to come.
This is what our Adversary does not want. And this is the point at which he will launch his most vicious attack. The Adversary does not want us to find our true self. He would rather we spend our time absorbed in selfish pursuits, ignoring the plight of our brothers and sisters. So he will play on our past fears and insecurities, trying to trip us up and hoping we will return to our past lives of pursuing pleasure for its own sake.
© 2018 Lawrence Klimecki
Images courtesy of pixabay.com and New Line Cinema