For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light.--Proverbs 6:23a
There the trees are so tall and populous. They fan branches of varying shades of green over a damp and darkened forest floor, shutting out the rays of sun that could enlighten the fearsome darkness. Standing in such a darkened place is frightening because we can imagine all manner of things that could happen to us, and we don't know which ones, if any, will occur. Our body holds a poised tension as we try to prepare ourselves to lurch in some direction should any unforeseen calamity arise. Surprisingly, the longer we remain in the black womb of the forest, the more relaxed we become. Our surroundings begin to feel more familiar, and our fear begins to ebb away.
When we stand in the deep dark silence of our inner life, we can feel just as frightened. We risk encounters with the insidious demons that can assault and trouble our soul. The demons of inattention, unchecked desires, the need for control, judgment of others, greed, lust, mean-spirited-ness, lack of acceptance, and so on. They stay invisible in their lair until they see their prey close by, and then they move with swiftness to overtake unsuspecting souls. Perhaps the slyest demon of all is the one who plucks the strings of our desire to be free of God's rules for our life. At the very thought of laws and commandments, we can find ourselves bucking like a young horse being trained for a rider. We tell ourselves that we are adults and can make our own decisions; we don't need any religious rules and restrictions imposed on us from the outside.
Then we are startled when one of those clever demons catches our foot and throws us off-balance, attempting to overcome us. We feel helplessly held within its grasp and fight for freedom. And then we 'get it' - finally, we get it! The rules and regulations are not the onerous taskmasters we thought they were, meant to limit enjoyment or create undue guilt. They actually make it possible for us to live within ourselves with freedom and peace. They are the resources given us to keep our soul safe, secure, and protected when the demons slip out of the blackness, and slither across our path. The commandments and laws are like single beams of light that melt the power of evil, leaving our body relaxed and our soul quiet.
O God, thank you for refusing to leave me defenseless in the midst of the darkened forest of my own soul.
These meditations first appeared at explorefaith.org
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