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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - Fear: Faith's Enemy

(click for previous chapter: Flirting with the World: The Other Choice)


Faith has many enemies.

While the Other Choice can be one of those, it doesn’t have to be. If we as the chooser put our Perfect Lover and the Other Choice in the proper places of our hearts, they can actually get along. (Eph. 6:12, Jn. 17:15-16) We are still in the world though not of it. Jacob and Edward become allies, but only Edward gains Bella’s heart. That’s one theme in the third book, Eclipse.

To be clear, I'm not saying "world" as in flesh/sin because being friends with sin is to be enemies with God. Here I'm saying, we still live in the world and must interact with it, involve it in our testimony, function within it. We're humans living in the human world. Things of this world, as long as they are not idols, are not intrinsically evil or sinful. We make them such with our decisions, actions, intentions and such. I.E. music, nature, food, sport. All can be used for the glory of God.

Other enemies, however, are indisputable. Bitterness, unforgiveness, despair, lies, temptation and hopelessness all can deliver heavy blows to faith, especially when they attack in the wilderness.

But the most dangerous enemy to faith, I believe, is fear. I heard an acronym for fear once: False Evidence Appearing Real. And therein lies the danger – fear tampers with beliefs.

In New Moon, Bella believes Edward left her because he didn’t want her any more, that he didn’t love her. This contradicts what she believed previously, that he did love and want her. She is disillusioned and confused and hurt. But she discovered Edward’s voice and pursues it. If she does that, then at least she can still believe he existed in the first place. So her faith is altered, damaged, shaky, but not completely gone.

It’s the perfect situation for fear to enter and administer the kill shot.

Bella and Edward shared a sanctuary in Twilight, the meadow out in the woods. She’s been looking for it ever since he left, sometimes with Jacob. When Jacob stops returning her phone calls (because he’s making the crossover to becoming a werewolf), Bella’s pain and loneliness flare up and she sets out to find the meadow by herself. Desperation fuels her quest. She feels like she’s tearing apart inside.

She finds the meadow, but not what she’s looking for – some evidence of his presence. It’s a low point for her. Even her holy place is dark and dead.

But then, someone shows up.

Laurent. A vampire, but not of the Cullen vegetarian variety.

Their encounter in the meadow is a stark image of how fear confronts us at our lowest point.

At first, Bella is glad to see him, only because it proves to her that vampires do exist, that somewhere out there, Edward exists. This is a great comfort to her.

But that comfort soon dissolves into terror as Laurent wields the weapon of fear. He does so by subtly drawing into question her beliefs about her Perfect Lover. He says things like, “I’m surprised they left you behind. Weren’t you a sort of pet of theirs?” (NM pg.237) and, “… you must not mean very much to him if he left you here unprotected.” (NM pg. 240) and then, “There’s no reason for Edward to think of me, if he cares enough to investigate.” (NM pg. 241) Each comment is crafted to chip away at any belief she had left that Edward cared for her at all, then or ever. It seems to make sense to her, too, judging from the present circumstances.

The other way Laurent stokes fear in this scene is he threatens Bella with Victoria’s vendetta. (FYI, Victoria wants to kill Bella, who she believes is Edward’s mate, because in Twilight, Edward killed James, Victoria’s mate, but only because James was about to kill Bella.) In a nutshell, Laurent is saying, not only does Edward not care about you, but someone is out to kill you. You’re a sitting, dead duck.

Then, Laurent throws at her the most devastating punch. Since Edward doesn’t love her and Victoria will eventually kill her, he might as well get the job done now. He even says, “You’re very lucky I’m the one to find you… I’ll be quick. You won’t feel a thing, I promise.” Then he adds, just for kicks, “But if you knew what she had planned for you, Bella…” (NM pg. 241)

Blow after blow, Laurent’s words conjure fear, reinforce her incorrect beliefs, and entice her to give up and accept a tragic ending.

When we’re in the wilderness having our faith tested, already questioning the love of our Perfect Lover, the last thing we need is for fear to show up and claim that our Perfect Lover’s intentions are false and untrustworthy. But that’s what happens. Even if we’re in the sanctuary on our knees desperately searching for the Voice of our Perfect Lover, fear appears and whispers in our ears, “He’s left you here unprotected… you must not mean that much to Him… aren’t you surprised that He’s left you?” On and on, filling our heads with lies that strike into us fear – fear that the lies are true. And not only that, but the fear continues with: you have nowhere else to turn, nowhere to hide from the monster that’s coming to get you. A monster that wouldn’t even be interested if you hadn’t trusted the Perfect Lover in the first place, so really He’s the one putting you in danger. Might as well give up now.

Defending ourselves against fear is a tough, messy job. Fear has the ability to attach and linger and pop up when least expected. In Bella’s case, the fears Laurent planted in her mind stay with her throughout the book – past being reunited with Edward, past his pleas for her to understand his true intentions and feelings. Once fear is acknowledged, it is a very, very difficult thing to erase.

But there is a cure for fear. There is something more powerful that can vanquish it with one strike. And that is… perfect love. (1 Jn. 4:18)

For that to happen, our beliefs must be in alignment. We must believe that the Perfect Lover indeed loves us unconditionally and eternally. We must believe that He’ll never leave us or forsake us. We must believe that only He can satisfy and fill that hole inside that aches for perfect love. When that happens, fear must depart.

The result: our faith is strengthened.

(click for next chapter: Attacks from Within)

(photos by photobucket.com)

3 comments:

lynnrush said...

I never thought of Laurant as an enemy of faith, but you're so right.
Nice!

lynnrush said...

I never thought of Laurant as an enemy of faith, but you're so right.
Nice!

Marilyn said...

You are so right about fear and how perfect love is the way to defeat it.