Bert Amsing I like this saying…very true….the problem is that most love, most of the time is not deep enough or strong enough or doesn’t last long enough….only the love of God can give us the strength to love always, to love anyway and to love our enemies…..only the love of God can overcome all circumstances, even sickness and death….the joy (and love) of God is my strength…..just saying. The Desert Warrior
TJ Sorry I disagree. I have seen the deepest and most compassionate love come from people of all and different faiths and people of no faith whatsoever. I have seen the most vile, evil cruelty and hate come from deeply reliigious people Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc. Decency and compassion requires ethics and morals NOT religion. If it is done in the name of religion good for that person, but it is not a requirement.
Bert Amsing Interesting thought Tammy….however…..I never mentioned religion…..I was talking about God…not people….your point proves my point…..people (by themselves) are often vile, evil and cruel as you say…..some people (religious or not) are full of love…..good point….what makes the difference? Why are some people full of love and others full of hate…regardless of religion….is it simply a decision? You know better than that…..your original quote says it all….when we are loved, we are able to love…..the human condition is screwed up because there isnt enough love, for long enough, to everyone (regardless of whether they hate you or not…which is usually the definition for being an enemy)…..it’s called Attachment Theory and basically it says that if you did not receive love, it is difficult to express love…..true….but where does decision come in…..do you, Tammy, love the religious vile, evil, cruel haters out there? Is your love strong enough, deep enough to overcome the hate, the cruelty of the world? That is the question of the ages….all philosophers from all religions will tell you that love is the answer….but that isn/t the question….obviously, love is the answer….the question is why is our love (even the love of the good guys who received love as children) why is our love not deep enough or strong enough to give us the courage to love the haters, the vile, the cruel even while they continue to be hateful, vile and cruel….the Bible says that God loved us even while we were still his enemies….he loved the prostitutes, the sinners, the tax collectors, the outcast, the sick…..his only requirement was humility….the recognition of our need for his love….when we recognize our desperate need for God…
TJ God is not needed. If a person feels a need for a God then all the power to them. To insist that a God is needed is naive and abusive. You have a right to believe as you wish. You do not have any right to force your beliefs on anyone else. Religion/God is like a penis. You can be proud of it, but if you start waving it up in my face we are going to have a problem.
Bert Amsing Wow, that is agressive….someone must have really hurt you….I am sorry…..I am neither naive nor abusive and I am not forcing my beliefs on anyone…just sharing some thoughts on facebook….but, to be truthful, I am not feeling that deep, strong love that you say you have for those who disagree with you….and I don-t blame you…..not easy to love those you disagree with….which is why there are fights, terrorism, hate, spite, vile, cruel people in the world…they don’t think that they are cruel….they simply disagree with your way of looking at the world and often feel threatened….so they lash out at you because of a lack of commitment to the way of love….are you doing the same to me? Sorry to be so blunt….but you are proving the point….if you don’t want God/s help to love others or you have decided only to love those that agree with you or that you happen to like….then, certainly, your love is good enough for your purposes in your little world, but in the real world it needs a tougher, stronger source….love must become a virtue before it can become a solution….as a virtue it must be for everyone, always….who is up to that task on their own….once again, my apologies….I did not mean to offend. The Desert Warrior.
TJ Yeah, that is a very typical response from someone that likes to shove their religion at people who are in no way interested. Sort of like the JWs and Mormons that go knocking on the doors of strangers trying to get their God points to get into heaven. I do not believe in religion, or as you say God, because it is not necessary, not logical, and completely made up. You are totally free to believe as you wish and keep it to yourself and on your page. What you are doing is spamming.
Bert Amsing I don’t agree…but accept my apologies if I have offended you…..I don’t need God points just like I don’t need wife points….she loves me….he loves me….and it does give me strength and courage to love others. Thanks for listening…..Bert
CK Bert I’m glad you apologised-thank you. Saying that someone who is simply asserting that love doesn’t need a deity, relic, talisman, superficiality to exist doesn’t mean that she’s been hurt by someone, she’s not broken, or any less of a human than you or I. Disagreeing with you shouldn’t make you feel less loved (this by the way is passive aggressive behaviour that you are demonstrating). It doesn’t make Tammy deficient in any way or a victim to have her own beliefs and be solid in them – yes she’s direct and bold and it’s refreshing.
Bert Amsing hello Carmen, welcome to the discussion….let me also apologize to you if you thought that I was saying in any way that tammy was broken….or less of a wonderful person for her beliefs….but, let’s be honest here….it wasn’t her beliefs that I was referring to….but rather the aggressive nature of her comments….normally people don’t show such strong emotion about a topic without having an emotional history behind it….in addition, my apology is directed to the emotional situation not the intellectual one….your comments seem to be less emotional and you, apparently, agree with her intellectual position….good for you…..but I disagree….intellectually…..I hope that is alright…..athiesm is not taking over….in fact, it is back on its heals and having a hard time recovering from the onslaught of overwhelming evidence that evolutionary theory is just that….a theory…and that the Big Bang theory strongly suggests an intelligent, purposeful design of the universe….many atheists in the past 30 years have either become Christians or agnostics….check out my blogs at www.desertwarrior.net for more information. Sorry, but your position is about a generation too late….I like your last statement…science is the way forward….true for things like poverty, health care and the like…but for some strange reason….human nature seems to stay the same…greater technology seems to bring greater evil….love is always a choice but few people seem to take the road less traveled and love not just their neighbor but also their enemies….that’s the truth…..not a judgement…..everybody knows it….love is the answer but somehow we humans dont have enough of it to go around….or do you really think we do….not that we COULD but that we DO….not POTENTIAL…..ACTUAL LOVE….for those who hate your guts….what is your solution to that problem?…..would love to know. The Desert Warrior
Bert Amsing Why do you bring up the man/woman thing? Frankly, I am confused…..why is this not simply a disagreement of beliefs about the existence of God and his role in inspiring humans to greater efforts at love? You make it about a lot of other things…..I appreciate your position that it is assertiveness and not aggressive….I don’t agree but that is all right…..no problem…..thank you for a wonderful discussion. I truly hope that you experience the deep strong love that will give you the courage to give that same love to others, whether they deserve it or not, whether they love you back or not…at the end of the day….real love in the real world is what matters….if you think we can do it on our own, please be the first to demonstrate that truth in your own life….deeply love your enemies….and you will inspire me and others to do the same…..thank you for your committment to the greatest power on earth….the power of love as a virtue, for everyone, at all times, no matter who they are or whether they even deserve it….who of us, do? The Desert Warrior www.desertwarrior.net*****Here are a few things that I would have liked to say…..First of all, if someone posts something on my facebook, I assume that they are interested in a conversation. I certainly don’t mean to offend…..Secondly, last time I checked, Lao Tzu is not a Christian and yet he is the one we are discussing…..interesting. I truly like his reflection on love….the two key words are “strength” and “courage”. Love can give you strength because it meets your needs, it gives you security which frees you up from worrying or even thinking about yourself and your needs and allows you to love…..but love can still be risky….that’s why I like the second part as well….that love can give you courage…..the motivation to risk in the face of fear….nicely put….I think we all know that his comment is true…and many of us have experienced in some degree that kind of love from our family, friends and lover. My point was not that we don’t experience that love or that we are not capable of that love to some degree….my point is that we don’t love ENOUGH….enough to love our enemies….enough to love when we are not loved in return…..yes, it takes courage…..but the truth is that neither, I, nor anyone else, loves ENOUGH, neither deeply nor strongly nor long enough….Third, maybe….just maybe….God isn’t really happy with religious people who are cruel and vile and hurtful either……maybe God is as angry and upset and sick to his stomach with our lack of love for one another. I think that he has a special place in store for those who, on top of it, try to hide in his church, under his protection, while continuing to practice their evil….that kind of arrogance is sickening. I agree. Not that those people can’t be saved from themselves and the consequences of their evil….they can….if their arrogance becomes shame and humility and if that shame is nailed to the cross of Christ and transformed into love for God and others…..or do you know of another way to find the courage to forgive someone for being a pedofile or abusing your children or stealing your life’s savings……that kind of love isn’t possible without forgiveness and forgiveness isn’t possible for the evils of this world unless it has a strong foundation in justice as well as love…..throughout the history of the world, the cross has been the only force strong enough to act as the foundation for forgiveness…and therefore, love….Fourth, maybe….just maybe….if God is real…if He is there…if He is listening (or rather reading) this conversation….then maybe He considers it also arrogant for us to think that we have enough love to deal with the problems of this world without His help…..if we do, then why don’t we….our arrogance condemns us….And finally, a thought on the whole human condition as we live out our lives in the presence of the God who is there….“There is no greater embarassment in heaven or on earththan the arrogance of those who ought to be ashamed of themselves.Sadly, that applies to all of us.” The Desert WarriorWe like to think that we can handle things without God, that we can love enough without God, that we can be good enough without God……if so, then why is this world and our individual lives so full of hatred, cruelty and pettiness (not to talk about the real, daily terrorism that we inflict on each other). I have never found a single philosopher, thinker or religious leader that can explain how to get humans to love each other rather than hate each other. That’s the truth. The virtue of love is a rare bird….Of course, if God doesn’t exist….no problem….don’t worry about it….the little bits of love that we do manage to generate for our families, friends and loved ones…..is the best we have….in the face of the great evils that plague this world…..poverty, discrimination, religious bigots, pedofiles, crime, abuse, and the like…..frankly, that depresses me beyond words…..I no longer believe in the fantasy of my own goodness or the power of my own love to solve my own problems much less anyone else’s….Is my love enough? No. Only the love of God can save me and change me….“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..” John 3:16That’s still the good news as far as I am concerned…..The Desert WarriorCopyright © 2013 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
“It is time. I will wait no longer.”
He circled around slowly like a wolf stalking his prey. Power emanated from his eyes, reaching out like a dark mist to choke and destroy. His eyes were locked in sync with the eyes of Gabriel. Their swords were drawn, neither giving quarter, but the truth lurked in the corners of Gabriel’s mind. He could not win. Lucifer was too strong.
The last days had been a whirlwind of treachery and battle. Already a third of the angels had gone over. Now Lucifer had chosen Gabriel as his next victim. To convert him or destroy him.
And Heaven was silent.
That was the greatest mystery of all. As if the Almighty had something more important to do, something impossible to create, a new beginning to introduce into existence. Gabriel had heard the rumors. There was to be a new creation. Sun, moon and stars. But the greatest whispering among the heavenly hosts had to do with the Children of Dust. What wondrous news was this? But here, now, this felt like an ending not a beginning. He didn’t know what to do.
A low, guttural wheeze came from Lucifer as he regained his breath. “I gave you a choice. I did not give you an eternity to make it,” he said. “But then again, you always were weak.” His taunts bothered Gabriel not at all. He only needed an opening.
Gabriel lowered his sword just a bit and let Lucifer circle more to his side, drawing the attack. But even then, he barely avoided the edge of Lucifer’s sword as he attacked from his blind side. Gabriel parried, jumping out of reach and then back in close with an attack of his own. The ringing of steel as their swords met echoed throughout the heavens but they were alone, no crowds to cheer them on, a desperate and lonely battle that Gabriel was now sure he would lose.
But not before he drew blood.
His sword flashed in low to cut Lucifer’s feet out from under him, but his brother was already in the air and slashing down at Gabriel’s exposed neck. Gabriel fell forward rolling and flipping his feet over his head to land, crouched and ready for the next attack.
Lucifer was more powerful than any other, for his position in the heavenly realms was second only to the Almighty himself. He was the Keeper of the Glory of the Throne of God and in that was his downfall. He wanted the glory for himself. That seed of desire had grown into the treachery of rebellion and heaven found itself at war.
Gabriel could not win and Lucifer knew it. The swordplay itself was part of the deeper battle within. Gabriel had a decision to make, a side to take. The battle provided the pressure to decide without thinking, to act based on doubt and fear, or just self-preservation. The silence of heaven did not help matters. There was nowhere to turn for help. It was his decision to make, and his alone.
But even in the sweat of battle, Gabriel knew that there was no decision to make. There was no choice. That, too, was part of Lucifer’s deception. He promised freedom. He promised power. Neither was of any interest to Gabriel.
He gritted his teeth and charged back into danger. He wanted to get in close and do some damage before he met his end. His sword flashed and with lightning speed he thrust and parried with such energy and power that Lucifer was taken by surprise and gave way. Gabriel would not let up and was after him in a moment.
Lucifer’s eyes narrowed, anger and impatience flashing from under dark brows. He seemed to grow even more menacing, as if he had been holding back, and bore down on Gabriel without mercy. With a sudden thrust and slash of his dark sword, Lucifer cut Gabriel to the quick and his sword arm was useless. Gabriel backed up quickly, one hand over his wound, his sword dragging. Lucifer smiled and began to circle once again, still wary of some last attempt by Gabriel.
Gabriel was ready. There was nothing left to do. His soul cried out into the void of heaven, seeking his Father but there was nothing. For a moment, the black darkness of despair swept over him. It engulfed him and left him cold and unfeeling. There was no point. Why was he fighting so hard? Nobody cared. He was alone. Heaven was silent. There was nothing left for him to fight for. There was no point in being destroyed because of his loyalty. Why should he suffer because heaven would not fight? He was utterly and entirely alone.
“No-o-o.” The cry exploded from his throat with the force of his anguish. “No. I will not turn.” He stood up straighter and looked Lucifer in the eye. Alone or not, abandoned or not, his heart belonged to his Father. He would be destroyed before he would turn.
Lucifer’s gaze was intent, penetrating, curious.
Why didn’t Lucifer attack? A glimmer of hope began to crowd out the despair. Something else was going on. Gabriel was sure of it. Again his heart cried out, but again, there was nothing. Nothing……except a still, small voice in the depths of his soul. He stilled his breathing so as to hear better, but the voice made no sense.
“Your trumpet plays best without a sword in your hand,” the voice whispered.
Gabriel did not understand but he knew that voice. He dropped his sword and reached over his shoulder to take his trumpet. He winced as the wound in his arm reminded him of his peril.
Lucifer looked at him bemused. “There is no one to call. Your trumpet will do you no good. You are alone, no one will come.”
“Then you won’t mind if I play one last song, will you?” Gabriel said quietly. The idea had come to him that instant. He didn’t know what he would play, but the desire to play his trumpet and sing for his Father, the Majesty upon the Throne, was strong within him.
“Close your eyes.” The voice came to him clearer now. “Pay him no mind.”
Gabriel obeyed, closed his eyes and waited for Lucifer to attack. After a moment he slowed his breathing, took a deep breath, and straightened his back.
“Play what is in your heart,” the voice said. “Find the song you were created to sing.”
Gabriel raised the trumpet but hesitated, and then stopped. The pain in his arm seemed to intensify, his strength failing him. He could hardly lift the trumpet to his lips. His breathing became shallow; his eyes were still closed, his heart squeezing with dread as he felt a presence close behind him. Then he shivered as the icy breath of Lucifer came upon his neck and he heard him whispering softly, with unholy insistence in his ear.
He tore his mind away; keeping his eyes tightly closed and put the trumpet to his lips once again. He could not think, he could hardly catch his breath much less come up with a song, but he could obey.
“Breath deeply and relax,” the voice said. “We will begin together.” The sound of heavenly music filled the air around them and Lucifer’s whispers receded and his cold presence no longer dominated the back of Gabriel’s neck and mind.
Gabriel took his trumpet and breathed out a sound, a beginning, a seeking out of the deepest desires of his heart. His trumpet rose stronger with yearning and then dropped to a whisper of longing. And he began his song.
Lord, I worship you.
I glorify your holy name
The sun and moon and stars
Your wonders, I proclaim.
This was the desire of his heart. To worship the Majesty. That was enough. It was more than enough.
Lord, I worship you.
You alone are worthy, Lord.
King of all the earth.
Lord I worship you.
His heart filled with a wondrous joy. It was so natural, so much a part of him that his song took flight by itself.
To your Majesty, I will ever lift my voice
And in you I will rejoice for all you’ve done for me.
To your Majesty, I’ll lift up holy hands.
In your presence I will stand through all eternity.
And in that moment, he was in the presence of his Father, in the throne room of the Almighty, filled with the light of his Glory. Gabriel’s eyes were open now and his trumpet took on a life of its own and filled the throne room with its beautiful sound.
Then he sang again, his heart swelling with a strange emotion. And the seraphim sang softly with him.
To your Majesty, I will ever lift my voice
And in you I will rejoice for all you’ve done for me.
To your Majesty, I’ll lift up holy hands.
In your presence I will stand through all eternity.
And again, his trumpet filled the halls of heaven with sound, quieter now, as the seraphim sang the heart of his song one last time.
Lord, I worship you.
Gabriel took a deep breath, content and aglow with a strange feeling. The voice within came and filled his mind with wonder, describing what he was feeling, this new sensation, this new glory. Love. He looked toward the throne, a question in his eyes, and the Majesty smiled and said, “It is so.” But the name of it in the heavenly tongue can not be described other than to say that the seraphim began to weep whenever they heard it spoken.
After a long pause, Gabriel spoke.
“And what of Lucifer?” He looked around for the dark shadow that had hounded him for so long.
“He has been cast down,” said the Majesty.
“Is it over, then?”
“No.” The Majesty spoke again. “It has only just begun.”
“How will it all end?”
There was no answer, only silence. Gabriel had the distinct impression that the Majesty had put certain plans in motion but it was not the time to speak of them. Gabriel was at peace. All was as it should be. He glanced down at his wound which had been completely healed. He picked up his sword which was still lying at his feet, sheathed it and stood up.
The Majesty motioned for him to stand on the right side of the throne. He saw Michael, his younger brother, on the left side, his wings spread out. Gabriel took his place and spread out his wings as well, almost touching the wings of Michael, creating a canopy behind the Majestic King of Heaven, and now of Earth as well.
It will end as it has begun, Gabriel decided, with the Majesty upon the throne and the power of Lucifer broken. How, and when, and at what cost was another matter altogether.
The Temptations of the Cross by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.
To Your Majesty by Phil Driscoll. All rights reserved by the author/songwriter.