I never cease to be amazed by the slow, seemingly natural, slide into a slump. Screwtape knew exactly how to distract me when he advised Wormwood,
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extend to which you separate the man from the Enemy [the Godhead]. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts1
I, as a Christian-American, would add many, many more items to Screwtape’s suggestion of cards. Advertisements abound on our drives to work. Lights flash and blind us from all directions. Lost in our fast paced and high demand lifestyles, we have become desensitized and lazy in fighting the influences around us. How quickly we have forgotten where our devotion should lie. This too, is my life. I fall into the rote, rut, rot of religious life (as described by A.W. Tozer).
Routine, for me, acts as a double-edge sword. If I can master it, things get accomplished, but I do not naturally tend toward it. In fact, I abhor it. But even if I try to solidify a routine, eventually I am worn down and just want to throw it off. However, slowly, week after week, an unintended routine creeps in—namely monotony. It hinders my ability to think clearly and accomplish what I would like. This trend held true for past few months, and it took an incredible intervention of God to wake me up. When this site was started in September I felt a grand sense of accomplishment and perseverance. I knew if people were interested in what I had to say it would spark a sense of semi-obligation to my readers. However, the effort needed to maintain high standards weighs heavily on me. I desperately want to produce works of distinction, whatever the venue may be, but high value only comes at a price. It demands work–hard work, and I am lazy. But I feel a sense of duty to regain and rebuild what has been lost. Shortly after the second great awakening Christians gave up trying to influence areas of our culture and other worldviews stepped up to the plate. We should be the ones trying our hardest to produce useful, transcendent works, but instead we have become just as absorbed in materialism and consumerism as our neighbor. With our passions squelched and our influences dilapidated, we quite simply aren’t taken seriously anymore.
As I examine what legacy I want to leave with my life, I think of men such as Erasmus (1466/69-1536), Luther (1483-1546) and Calvin (1509-1564). Men who, by our standards of living today, had nothing. And yet they left some of the most lasting legacies in Christian history. The collected works of Erasmus spanning 86 volumes; Luther’s comprising 60,000 pages; and Calvin’s filling 59 volumes. I have been asking myself, how much do I get wrapped up in simply maintaining the status-quo of our high American standards of living? I spend such an incredibly high amount of energy simply making ends meet instead of producing works of inestimable value. I am in no way denying the need for work or even attacking technology, but technology was originally created to be subservient to humans and help decrease our workload. However, I see how we have become subservient to the technologies and careers in our lives instead of devoting our energies to more fruitful, transcendent, and purpose-filled paths.
Will your name be remembered 450 years after your death?
- Clive Staples Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 60-61 emphasis added. ↩