Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Threat Within

I had a dream that wouldn't let go of me. Despite waking up several times, the dream did not fade. On the contrary, it started again each time I fell back asleep.

In the dream, our family moved into a new house, a house worm-holed with secret passages where a killer, a molester, hid. This killer was going to get one of my children. He had struck others in the past and now we were in his sights.

Toward the end of the dream cycle, I opened a secret hatch and found the monster within my home--a little girl. While harmless today, I knew she had to be removed, before she grew older and stronger and could do real harm. I called the police to report her trespassing, her hiding within my house, and the officer laughed it off, telling me to return her to her mother. I hung up, frustrated, and realized the girl had escaped while on the phone.

I suppose this says more about my psychological condition than I probably want to confront, but it is also a fitting symbol for temptations and their power. The house is a symbol for the body, for the physical life, our outer life. What happens inside the house is a symbol for what happens in our inner life, our spiritual life. At least it can be.

In the dream I knew my home was compromised, my life was compromised, that something alien to me and dangerous had infiltrated and was threatening my inner life. This is a symbol for temptation and sin. In the beginning temptations come and are mostly harmless, but if not removed, they grow in strength. Temptations left unchecked lead to sin which destroys, not just us, but also those around us who suffer the effects of our trespasses.

Of course, these temptations make themselves out to be natural, normal feelings, conceptions, and inclinations. When temptations come, they seek to convince us that they are not alien to our spiritual life. They are self-deprecating, appearing to be gentle, normal and unobtrusive. If we do not recognize them as a threat, we will leave them be, perhaps even befriend them.

Imagine a man who stepped on a nail. He picked up his foot and saw the head of the nail barely poking out of his heel. But there was only a spot of blood he quickly wiped away. He tried to walk on it, and found he actually could, though with great pain and a slow gait. He walked into his home and his family saw his pain and the effects of the injury. His wife made him sit down and looked at his foot, immediately seeing the nail that had penetrated his heel. Now it would be complete insanity of him to say, "Oh no. That's part of my foot. It's okay for it to be there. I'll just leave it be and learn to work around it."

St. Paul writes, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV) St. Paul is not talking about apologetics here, about creation vs. evolution, about "reasons to believe." He is talking about taking every logismos captive, to patrol our souls for all that which is alien to the life of Christ we have received, to cast them out, to not be fooled into admitting dangerous thoughts and temptations into our lives. It calls for watchfulness (nepsis), for prayer, for repentance, and especially for a unwavering hold upon the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ who crushed the head of our enemy.


  1. Doorman-Priest said...

    Anxiety dream, Christopher? My anxiety dreams - I won't bore you with the details - follow a pattern. I'd be interested to hear if this one returns.

  2. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Yes, my usual anxiety dreams are nearly identical and boring. This one was different, and save the what I thought was nice application, also boring. :)

    I had it a while ago, and it's never returned. Good riddance.