Devotion through literature

Way back in March, at the beginning of Lent and the beginning of my blog, I decided to spend my 40 days in daily devotion. I’m happy to report that it went great but then Lent ended and so did my devotion to devotion.

This week I was off to the book store to find a new source of devotion (because all the other devotional books and pocket-sized books of inspiration I’ve got tucked away in bookshelves just weren’t good enough). I came back with three to choose from. Don’t worry Dear Husband, one of them was from the $1 bargain rack. Another one is called Book Lover’s Devotional  – What We Learn About Life From Sixty Great Works of Literature from Barbour Publishing. Inspiration gleaned from classic lit and paired with biblical lessons. The best of both worlds!

Yesterday’s reading was from All Quiet On The Western Front. The lesson drew from the story where a German soldier, brought up to hate his French enemy, finds compassion, remorse and common ground for a French soldier whom he has to spend the night with in a trench. The French soldier dies during the night and the young German man is left to wrestle his emotions and conscience.

Christ’s teaching from the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:44) tells us to love our enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. 

I can’t think of any one person in my life whom I would call my “enemy”. I can, however, think of people who really annoy me. It’s easy to complain about why they annoy me so much and Dear Husband is the poor soul who has to listen to most of my self-righteous drivel. Instead, I should be taking my selfish complaints to God. Whenever I don’t agree with someone or am annoyed I need to give it up in prayer. Not a prayer of Lord, set them straight or let them see the light or fix them but Lord, fix me, show me how to love that person and bless them.

When I move to a more global scale it’s easy to think of who my enemy should be. Is it possible to respond with love to those who want to hurt us? After 9/11 what would have happened had we responded with forgiveness instead of retaliation? It’s difficult to think of that as a possible scenario. It’s difficult to think that we would ever be in a place where that scenario could be taken seriously. Am I being too naive? Maybe a world where we respond to adversity with love on a global scale is unattainable.

I guess that takes me back to my little world. It’s the only one I can control right now (or try to anyway).  Gotta run, Hitler’s at the door.

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