The Dance With Death.

“Keep your vision all-inclusive, never allowing it to lock on any one thing…look everywhere at once, see nothing to the exclusion of all else—don’t allow the enemy to direct your vision, or you will see what he wishes you to see. He will then come at you as you become bewildered, looking for his attack, and you will lose.
Instead, your vision must open to all there is, never settling, even when cutting. Know your enemy’s moves by instinct, not waiting to see them. To dance with death meant to know the enemy’s sword and its speed without waiting to see it. Dancing with death meant being one with the enemy, without looking fixedly, so that you could kill him. Dancing with death meant being committed to killing, committed with your heart and soul.”

– Terry Goodkind, Temple of the Winds

This passage comes in the context of a warrior in battle. A warrior whose only objective is to eliminate the threat. To obliterate the enemy at all costs.

As my life unfolds, I find that I possess the power to read into things way too much. This is sometimes detrimental, but other times is useful for seeing symbolism and metaphor where there is only normality. To find minute distinction in the hopelessly ordinary. Revealing the nuance in the prose if you will. 😉

Once again, I find myself sucked into another one of Terry Goodkind’s genius stories involving Richard Cypher and the Sword of Truth. And, once again, I recognize the spiritual undertones of it all.

[WARNING: The following text contains extreme nerdiness.]

In order to understand it fully, you must understand the way the sword works in the story. The Sword of Truth is a sword of magic. It’s used in it’s ideal purpose only by the noble and true of heart, warriors who are not corrupt, not selfish. It possesses the knowledge, feelings, and abilities the previous owners sustained. When the sword is used, the person gripping the hilt at once becomes one with the ancestors of the sword, using the same power those before him used. That power is his for the taking.
Richard calls this summoning of power, this art of war, ‘The dance with death’ … as it mimics dancing in footwork, and results in the impending reaping of life.

So it is in the spiritual realm.

As disciples of Christ, we already own this ‘sword’. In a previous blog, “I Just Want to be a Woods Guide.”, I explained that the sword is a symbol of the word of God, the bible (Hebrews 4:12). I also mentioned how accepting the title of ‘disciple’ opened the gateway into the power that the sword gives. Richard gains power through the sword itself, as we do with the words of God to guide us through life. He also gains power through the ancestors before him, who wielded this very sword. Those ancestors to us are not only the prophets and disciples accounted in the bible, but also those generations before us, who blazed a trail into the world we know today. We are given power by their heritage, by their strength. (Acts 1:8)

By this we know that we are fully equipped to fight the enemy. We have the power necessary to obliterate any obstacle and overcome any trial.
With power comes skill. Skills that we learn on the battle field, skills we learn through heritage.

That’s what the quote is all about. It’s advice for the warrior on how to kill.
I’ll break it down for ya.

“Keep your vision all-inclusive, never allowing it to lock on any one thing…look everywhere at once, see nothing to the exclusion of all else.”
When fighting the enemy, our first instinct is to focus on them. But when we focus too hard on the enemy we get tunnel vision, and can miss more foes on either side or even solutions to the problem. One of Richard’s favorite quotes is: “Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution.”

“Don’t allow the enemy to direct your vision, or you will see what he wishes you to see. He will then come at you as you become bewildered, looking for his attack, and you will lose.”
When we are focused so much on the enemy and the problem at hand, we are focusing on the exact thing Satan wants us to focus on: Him. And when we’re focused on him, we aren’t focused on God. We lose sight and direction from who we’re fighting for. Before we know it, we’re so lost in Satan’s will that we become confused and disoriented, primed and ready for yet another attack.

“Instead, your vision must open to all there is, never settling, even when cutting.”
Even when we gain ground against the enemy, it’s easy to have ourselves a little victory march and forget what’s going on. This line means to never stop anticipating the next move. If you allow yourself to freeze on even the smallest gain, it could be detrimental to yourself and those around you (Nehemiah 4). To never settle is to never become desensitized.

“Know your enemy’s moves by instinct, not waiting to see them. To dance with death meant to know the enemy’s sword and its speed without waiting to see it. Dancing with death meant being one with the enemy, without looking fixedly, so that you could kill him.”
To fight the adversary is to know the adversary. In battle we are to move by instinct, and that instinct is based in knowledge received from past experiences and by what the word of God tells us. Because we are equipped with the knowledge of the enemy, we shouldn’t have to wait for his attack in order to fight back. We know which route sin could take to get to us, and what level of attack it will be. It is up to us to be ready for the attack we know will undoubtedly come. The quote calls it ‘being one with the enemy, without looking fixedly’ … This reiterates the previous advice to not put your focus where the enemy wants it, but to keep enough focus about the enemy in order to predict his next move.

“Dancing with death meant being committed to killing, committed with your heart and soul.”
Bottom line: If you aren’t fully committed to fighting against, and ultimately destroying, the sin in your life, you will succumb to the the wiles of fleshly desire and find yourself defeated. You must be committed to the fight with your heart and soul. (Mark 12:30)

— — —

Are you ready for the dance with death?

The Hallway, The Door, and The Room.

In my mind’s eye there are rooms, doors, and hallways. I go to each room, one by one, the hallway eventually leads to home. To eternal rest.
The doors are always there, but you have to go to them in the order you are told, because you learn something in each one that is needed for the room after, until you’ve obtained and strived all you can and are able open the last door. The door to heaven.
When I enter a room, I stay for a while, take on the triumphs and tragedies of this level, learn a lesson, and grow stronger. It’s never easy to conquer each room, but when I finally do overcome whatever happens to be in there, I feel an unction to leave that room. Only when I’ve completed my task can I leave back through that door, and when I do leave, I shut it behind me. I can choose to lock it and destroy the key or carry the key around with me. Once I have the key to enter that room I have the option to keep it. If I fail at the next room, I will always have the option of going backwards if I so chose to.
The hallway I come into is plain and uninteresting, yet there is a reason for it too. It is here I rest for a short amount of time. It is here I wait for the next unction. I could be in here for as long as would take to conquer a whole other room, but if I do not get the word on which door I should enter next and enter into the wrong door, I could mistakenly go back into a door I’ve already been in and have to fight the battle all over again, or I could go into a place where I’m not equipped to go and would’ve wasted my time only to get wounded and discouraged. Once I know which door I should enter, each one opens in a different way. Each has it’s own code, it’s own combination of gifts and talents, sacrifices and disciplines I have to combine into one to obtain the key that opens the door. Sometimes the codes are easy to decipher, and sometimes the door opens all by itself. Other times they are difficult to decipher and I could spend a countless amount of time just trying to go through.

Right now, I’m back in the hallway. I feel the end of this time growing near, creeping agonizingly to an end, soon I will know which door is next. I’ve fought the last battle and came out with horrendous battle scars. I didn’t keep the key. I haven’t kept any keys for quite some time now… Even if the unction leads me back to it and I must go through it again, it’s him that led me there, not of my own choosing. I haven’t been doing this alone, you see. God has led me to each door, helped me decipher the codes, celebrated with me, rewarded me, fought the battles alongside me, and talked with me about what I learned and showed me how to use what I was given.
My mind is overwhelmed with thoughts of when I get to the door of my next room, my next level. I feel God telling me he won’t open this next door for me. He won’t be unlocking it and turning the knob for me. He’ll lead me to the door and tell me that I already know the combination. But the previous room has left me exhausted and unmotivated to continue fighting. The code will be more difficult than before, it will require ultimate sacrifice, increased discipline, and unfailing faith. I don’t have all of those things yet. The combination will only be correct when I let go of what it is that’s holding me back.
Once I’ve figured out the right combination to the door, I must settle the issues in my life and turn the knob, regardless of what tells me it’s okay to stay where I am, to stay in a state of rest. I’m scared of that door, yet something inside of me yearns deeply for what’s inside the room. I’m scared of what I’ll have to give up, yet I know in my spirit that the room beyond the door is so much better than what’s in the hallway. It’s up to me now, It’s my choice to move forward into the door this time…

Wait.” God whispers softly to me, “You’re forgetting what the hallway is meant for. You’ve just fought a terrible battle and are severely wounded. Rest here for now, my child, let me tend to your wounds. Wait a while and see, the next door will be revealed in time. When that time comes, you will have the right combination and the door will be yours to open.