Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Devils in the Gardens

Photo Credit

While walking outside today, I passed a small garden in which was displayed a garden angel - that is a rather provocatively dressed, winged young female, molded of cement looking over the frost-withered plants with a demure innocence. I use the word 'angel' because that is what I knew its designer would call it, and what came to my mind when I saw it. But as I continued walking I thought again of how different such angels are from the angel that are. I also considered that the common images which much of western culture would identify as 'angels' and 'devils' are in some respects representative of their opposites.

Think of the typical image of an angel - white clad, smiling female - usually looking ecstatic or mysterious, satisfied and rather huggable. Now think of the typical image of a devil - fierce, fiery, armed - ready to stab you, and rather horrible. These images, though based on shreds of truth, are far from accurate. Granted, angels are white and beautifully bright, but they are also referred to as flames of fire (Heb. 1:7) and are sometimes armed and rather fiercesome (Numbers 22:23). In Scripture, whenever a human being saw an angel, terror usually ensued.  On the other hand, the devil often manifests himself to people in ways that are alluring, winsome and promising pleasure (Gen. 3). In Scripture, when a human being had an encounter with Satan or a devil, they were not usually frightened, but often drawn to listen to the one who "disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). So that cement molded image of a provocatively dressed, winged young female might be just as aptly named a "garden devil" as a "garden angel".  Besides being more petrifying than provocative, and more awesome than alluring, angels are also messengers. They don't hang around pretty places looking sweet - they are like the most of earnest of hound dogs, looking upon the face of God with keen eyes waiting for orders (Matt. 18:10), and zealously prompt and accurate in fulfilling them (Matt. 28:7, Luke 1:19). The devil is the one who hangs out in gardens (Gen. 3, Job 1:7)

All that to say, these realities made me realize how the inventions of man's hands, set before our eyes, despite their artistic beauty or material quality, also have subtle power to deceive our minds about the truth of how things are. It is not only pictures of little angels and devils, but images that the world begs to set before me on every side, that can glaze my perception of the truth. It happens without my knowing it, unless I have a treasury, a cleanser, an armory which will set me right after my vision has unknowingly blurred by walking through a day in the world with open eyes. "Sanctify them, by the truth. Your word is truth." Jesus prayed for His people (John 17:17).  So, again, all that to say (funny how it all comes back to this), I need to keep reading my Bible - but not only reading, setting it up against all that enters my eyes and heart and fortifying a weak heart with its truth.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I find this very insightful and informative. Makes me think...thank you Alyssa. I like reading your blogs. You are very articulate and wise.