Psalm 103:1-5, 19-20
Rev. Kit B. Billings
October 10, 2004
What is your own personal belief about the structure of the universe, about the structure of life? Are you more of the philosophical bent that is skeptical about anything you cannot see, touch, taste or smell? Do you struggle with a belief in heaven and hell…in spiritual worlds or realms beyond the natural one you now sit in?
Or has your life journey and experiences come close to, or
perhaps even now fully, convinced you that angels and devils are
real and may even be intimately involved in every step you take?
There are many things about God and His infinite wisdom I deeply
admire. One is the Divine's awesome creativity and wisdom in
creating the natural universe as it is—for indeed our natural
world is two things at the same time! On the one hand, as our
teachings reveal, and as person life experience does show,
“mother nature” is a great and multifaceted
theater that reveals the mind and qualities of its creator;
said differently, the birds, the bees and the flowers are living
mirrors that reflect the Holy One whose Divine Love and Wisdom
created them. As God's Word expresses so beautifully in Psalm
119:64, “The earth is filled with your love, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.” And in Psalm 19:1-4,
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the
work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night
after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” It was God's Divine Love and Wisdom that made the natural forms and the mathematical and physical laws—how simple it is, really, that nature reveals the One who made her.
Swedenborg refers to this feature of the natural universe as nature being a living correspondence—thus, minerals, plants and animals and human beings all exist as finite representations of higher spiritual things. So, you and me, and how we are made reflect the One who made us. And so we might say that each dainty, radiant flower actually receives God's voice, in a deep sense, saying to you: “Here I am, know me.”
This is one role or quality of the natural universe, that of a subtle mirror, which reflect the glory and great variety of the many aspects of God's Love and Wisdom. But nature has another power, another role to fulfill, which I feel is best given the name, “sacred veil.” Nature, our five physical senses, and the natural degree of the human mind also function extremely well as a thick curtain between this world and the next. Isn't it something how at certain times of life the Lord and His angels, and the power of spiritual love and light break through “the veil”, while at other times they are fully covered over, hidden, as if a treasure hidden in a field? And during these hidden periods its as if the Lord has said, “Now I draw my curtain closed; now you may not see me, although I am still here my child.” During these times God is simply reminding us of His great Divine law that our spiritual freedom must be maintained at all times, which means coming to deeply know that the Lord is the very real must be a personal choice. Personally accepting God's existence, even when the Lord appears to be fully veiled to my personal perception of Him is the start of faith to be sure.
Now, while it may be true that protecting your spiritual freedom by maintaining the veils God places in the natural degree of things is very important to the Lord, the Lord has still broader plans for us, which involve coming to acknowledge and reach out to the reality of God's kingdom and the angelic people who work and live there. Spiritual happiness and protection come, in part, from gradually surrendering one's self to the truth, in all its many forms. One among a number of vital spiritual truths that the Lord would want us to surrender to is both the reality of the existence of angels and also the power they hold to help and support us.
The universe is actually intrinsically a warm and loving place, most notably due to God's presence and the infinite Love He possesses and shines forth into every least particle of creation. Angels are the truly good human beings who live in heaven due to their goodness and wisdom; they are the people who have reached their greatest potential by walking the talk throughout their life here on earth; and they are unbound by time and space and are ready to help us in every way possible with the inner struggles and battles we may have. Their strength comes from not how strong their arms and muscles are but from their understanding and intention! The higher angels of heaven are very powerful beings. Their intentions and thoughts are so good and true, so open to the Lord's love and wisdom, that they can do more than move mountains, they can overwhelm evil, manipulative, conniving spirits with just one glance. They can do this due to the sheer force of love and wisdom available to them from deep within. Have you ever heard or seen the force of will in action? Well, one of my clergy friends has. He once watched a lone martial artist disarm three other men rushing him all at once from different sides without ever touching them. All he used was his will and intent, and aimed them with his arms and hands. This same martial artist was able to break the second and fourth bricks in a stack of five, again using the force of his spiritual life-force focused in one direction.
How about during a very difficult and challenging human interaction? Ever witness a person suddenly coming into a wonderfully strong and tenderly intense power of their will and intentionality surfacing within them, right when the situation needed it most? Have you ever encountered such “angel power” starting to flow through you? Well, I can sure say that I have—I would say “yes” on both counts. There have been a number of times in my life when suddenly I can clearly sense the real presence of angels among us. And I can recall many stories of various people I know sharing stories of what it felt like when an angel made her or himself palpably known, as real, if not more real, than you and I sitting here today.
Angels receive their power from only one source—God. They are the most powerful human beings because they know that without God they are powerless. When a spirit loses his grasp of this core truth that the Lord is the only source of power in life, then that spirit becomes weak and powerless—powerless with love that is. Swedenborg listened and learned that the angels of heaven enjoy their power from the Divine-True, that it is the spiritual truths they have learned and internalized that focus their power. With that said, the actual power or force being channeled into the truth of their minds comes from the love and goodness within them. These are beings who have learned how to open themselves up to the deep, spiritual forces of love and wisdom that flow from the Lord into their innermost depths. Swedenborg wrote in Heaven and Hell n.232: “All strength actually belongs to true things that stem from what is good, none to true things apart from what is good.” Strength arises from the bonding or joining of what is of love and what is of the truth.
When an angel just looks at an evil spirit, that devilish spirit simply collapses from his gaze and falls limp. The reason for this amazing reaction is that an angel's eyesight stems from heaven's light, which is created from the Divine-True emanating from the Lord. Evil spirits have power with us only to the degree that we are willing to enjoy their evil intentions and delights.
We can read about the awesome strength of goodness and wisdom the angels of the society in heaven we may call the “Michael Heaven”, which is brought to bear upon our minds this morning. As wicked as a devilish spirit can get, they are no match for the Lord's great spiritual warrior angels, called Michael. It is a great and highly useful spiritual truth that there exist such spirits, such angel-people who live in heaven. For we can know and believe that as soon as we pray and ask for Divine help once the spiritual condition of our inner being is being assaulted and attacked (perhaps by the energies of hatred, revenge, hardness of heart or whatever), then the Lord calls out more than several angels to come and rescue us. God has literally whole legions of angels, each one of which could capably do the job. God has provided you with powerfully strong and able allies, who are ready to help you and feed into you, during your struggles with feeling alone, downtrodden, weak and afraid.
Part of the weapons the evil spirits like to use is to convince us that we are really alone, and they use the veil of the natural world carefully to convince us (to convince the natural degree of our minds) of these trickeries. Sometimes we may feel, perhaps, attacked by a monstrosity of an evil or hellish force inside, not unlike the terrible dragon depicted in John's vision on Patmos. And it is right then, right at those times when under attack, that we must have the presence of mind to pray—to call upon the Lord and ask for Divine help and assistance. And for real, God will send you His wonderfully strong and steady angels, who will inflow into your thoughts and affections, feeding you with their warmth, their strength and their deep, deep inner peace; this enables you to reconnect with your higher mind and the higher truths you know to be the truth.
God has created you a spiritual being, even if the veil of this world may seem so extremely convincing at times. And it is the state or condition of your spiritual self that God wants us to have allies with, as we journey and grow and work so hard to live a life of goodness and truth. May your walk and prayerful openness to these great people, these great beings, of light be just as God has intended it—centered in deep love and faith in the Lord. Blessings and strength to you my friends. Amen.