Which is More Real? God’s Presence or My Feelings

C. S. Lewis has disturbed me lately.  So much so, that I find it is changing my thinking.  In The Screwtape Letters, the demonic general celebrates how easy it is to “twist reality” for the humans.  This simple technique has a dual effect. First, the attack distorts our feelings so that fears, arrogances, offenses, and injustices become larger than life, larger than what is even true. If we feel it, it must be true.  Second, this same attack reduces any spiritual sensation, any appreciation of beauty, or glimpse of Heaven to “just a feeling” and thus should be dismissed and disqualified. Pretty brilliant, if I may say so. If it is worldly and full of fear, it must be true. If is spiritual and full of hope, it must be false.

I have mulled on this for a few days now. And watched it in others.  When some of my friends discuss their angst, dilemmas or obstacles, there exists this faith-based steadfastness. I would be crazy to question or doubt their issues.  They believe whole-heartedly in the toughness of the situation, the hopelessness of it, the impossibility of resolution. It is God-less. He has no power or bearing on the situation.

But when I question these same zealous pessimists about hearing God, or believing His goodness, then their steadfastness melts. Suddenly any godly thought, or verse, or feeling of the Spirit’s movement they may have experience is minimized, dismissed or overlooked.

Let me give you a real life example that God used to illustrate this demonic scheme.


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Christmas Red

I am sitting tonight by the last embers of our first official fire. The first fire kind of marks the beginning of winter in our family so it is a big deal, at least to us. I love watching it blaze bright yellow-orange then transition into varying shades of reds. And as I sit mesmerized by the fire, changing before my very eyes, I am remembering our first night in Charleston.

It was truly one of those moments when you didn’t want to blink or breathe for fear of missing something supernatural. There was a sunset, which is always beautiful at the beach. But moments after the sun had gone down, the sky turned a vibrant red – so red that the water in the marshes and the ocean reflected red. Not pink, but red. Blood red.

The thought came to me, “The world is covered in blood.” We were on historic ground, where much blood had been shed, that of native Americans, soldiers in the War for Independence and in the Civil War battles. Thinking of the sacrifice of wars, I felt this grateful grief come over me. They died that I might have freedom.

The expanse of the red sky was so great that the whole landscape was covered. Any place that there was water – the intercoastal, the beach, small inlets – it looked like great pools of blood. I sat there breathless in awe. I heard it again: “The world is covered in blood.”

And it hit me. “All of creation groans for the sons (and daughters) to be revealed.” Creation was groaning and reflecting the greatest sacrifice, reminding us of the Blood that was shed for the whole world. The blood that has truly set me free.

After this vivid picture, I notice the color red seems a little more dear to me this Christmas. More than a merry color, it helps me remember the “why” of the season, by His stripes we are healed. So this Christmas, think red.