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 Veil.

When Jesus was crucified upon a cross, in the temple the veil between the holy place and the holy of holies was torn. Before, only priests of amazing spiritual stature could enter the holy of holies, or the area of the temple where God himself rested upon the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, but now anyone can enter into this place.
That means that those who are holy AND those who are (for lack of a better word) evil can come equally before the throne of God. For both alike, there is forgiveness at this throne. For the evil, there can be no threat to God himself, but along the way to the throne there are plenty opportunities to threaten the people of God.
Here’s my question, Who are you meeting on your way to the holy of holies? They may look like they are headed to the same place, they might even seem more holy than you.
We’ve always heard that we could be entertaining angels unawares. So doesn’t that mean we could be entertaining demons unawares as well?

Another thought brought to you by The Sword of Truth.

“I Just Want to Be a Woods Guide.”

Richard Cypher.
The main character of a book series called “The Sword of Truth”.
He was just a simple woods guide until something extraordinary happened to him.
He was given a title and a sword that fueled his own anger into a monster that could slaughter the enemy. But only if he accepted the title. Only if he chose to give into the magic that ignited every time he grasped the hilt of his sword, ripping it from it’s sheath into a blur of metal and blood.

He gets thrown into a world that’s complicated, where “magic” is a way of life… and it’s nothing he has ever known.
Yes, he accepted the title. Yes, he gave into the sword’s will. But he wished he never had.

When he looks back at his mediocre, but happy life, he sees simplicity and familiarity, he’s without fear or discomfort. He’s in his own territory.
Only now he’s in a different land, fighting things he never knew existed and coming across this terrible “magic” that’s put him where he is now. In a place of suffering, pain, and heartbreak.

He decides that once his mission is over he will put his sword forever back in it’s sheath and hand it back to the person it came from. He decides he just wants to be a woods guide again. No magic. No mission. Only a simply ignorant life of mediocrity.

———

Sounds like a terrible book, eh?

Except somehow we’ve followed the same path.

In my own personal interpretation I see this “magic” as my creativity. I use this word in a general sense, of course. What I mean is my ability to think outside the box, to see from multiple perspectives, and to express my knowledge and understanding in artistic ways that not everyone is able to do.

This sword I’m holding is the bible, the gospel that was given to me by a great and powerful person: God himself.
I accepted the title as one of his disciples, was excited about it until it changed everything I was once comfortable with.

With this powerful gift I can conquer anything in my path, yet my own heart is wishing I could go back to being mediocre. I find myself trying to hold this creativity back from changing me into what it will, to shove it’s fuel to the gospel I know and formed into my own personal greatness back into it’s sheath and thrust it back into the hands of God.

Why would I give up such a thing?
Because it’s easy.
I told my brother today, “Sometimes I wish I weren’t a creative thinker… so I could be happy with sitting in an office my whole life with great benefits and loads of cash in my bank…”

I can’t help but think of what type of life I could lead if I’d never been given the type of mind that I have. If I weren’t an “artist” that will struggle to reach that sense of contentment that can be found right away if I’d been willing to lay my hopes and dreams down for a security blanket and a warm glass of milk.

Truth is… I can never be that person. Though I may wish I could deny this fate that has been dealt to me and go back to being a woods guide, I know I can never go back and I certainly never wish to live the life of an average human being.

I want more. But with that price comes the price of the sword and it’s magic. It will bring pain and suffering, fear and discord, and most of all anger and heartbreak.

Everything I know has changed. Yet in the end, like Richard, I will decide that I’d rather have the pain of wielding this extraordinary gift (as a Christian and as an artist) than to live a simply ignorant life of mediocrity.

Embrace the magic that fuels the weapon you hold… It separates you from the rest. Don’t despise it because it’ll make life harder. Don’t wish you could be a simpleton just so you can have it easy.

Don’t catch yourself saying: “I just want to be a woods guide.”