Pagan Blog Project 2014

Pagan Blog Project 2014

Deliverance: a 14th Century word to describe the state of being saved, rescued or liberated from something dangerous or unpleasant. In modern terms, this is often used to describe the act of Divine Intervention after a prayer of appeal, to be rescued or liberated by a deity.

I overheard a conversation between my atheist husband and my neighbor, a Christian  Preacher, about a Pentecostal Preacher who refused an antidote after being bitten by a snake and about his religious belief of deliverance. This reminded me of a story I heard many years ago:

A man is walking along the cliffs when he slips and falls. He catches himself and balances precariously upon a ledge. In distress he prays for deliverance, and so strong is his belief that his God will save him from his plight that he remains calm in the face of potential death. Soon the man hears a dog barking somewhere above him, followed by the face of a woman peering over the edge of the cliff. “My Gods!” she cries “Don’t move! I am going to get help!”

“No, no, don’t worry” the man replies “I have prayed for deliverance and I have faith that my God will save me.” But his words were lost to the wind as the dog walker had already run for help.

A few minutes later a member from the coastguard peered over the ledge and called down to the man “Don’t worry sir, we have a helicopter on route and we will have you safe and sound in no time!”

“No, no, don’t worry” the man replies “I have prayed for deliverance and I have faith that my God will save me.” The coastguard is bemused by his response, but continues to call down to the man as they wait for the rescue helicopter to arrive. Soon the helicopter appears in the sky above the cliff and a mountain rescue professional is lowered down with a safety harness to assist the man still praying upon the ledge. Upon reaching the man, the rescue worker is surprised to be pushed away repeatedly. The man cries “No! I told you! I have faith that my God will deliver me from this plight!” In his rejection of rescue, the man slips from the ledge and falls to his death. He awakens in the afterlife to find himself stood before his God. In bitterness the man exclaims “I believed in you! I prayed to you! Why didn’t you give me deliverance at my time of need?”

His God replies “I did. I changed the winds for you so that the dog would pick up your scent. I whispered to the woman so that she would follow the right path and quickly find assistance. I supported the coastguards intuition to call in a rescue helicopter. I have often shared my strength with the rescue team that risked their own lives to save yours. And now I will listen to the prayers of each person traumatized by your death. I answered your prayer, you just didn’t listen to my response.

This story struck a chord with me, and I have often remembered it during dark and difficult times. Sometimes it can be hard to find deliverance in desperate situations. It can be hard to ask for help in any form, from Gods, from people, from the deepest parts of ourselves; and prayers may be made with bargaining and disbelief. Sometimes we doubt that there will ever be an end to the pain, sometimes we doubt that we deserve to be saved from the hardship, sometimes we doubt our own capabilities to overcome the difficulties and sometimes we doubt that the Divine exists – and if we do believe in their existence, we doubt that they would care about us and our plight. There is so much pain and poverty in this world, that the idea of any form of Divine Deliverance is often unfathomable.

Crone Post1I do believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer can connect us to the Divine within and without. I believe prayer can help us access deep wells of strength, perseverance, and compassion. I believe prayer can alter our consciousness, change our perceptions and affect our reality. I believe that the Divine responds to prayer and that Divine Intervention is possible. However I also believe that this story shows us we can fail to recognize deliverance when it appears, that our own beliefs and expectations can blind us to the method of deliverance, and that we feel abandoned by the Divine when deliverance fails to manifest in the way we expect or hope for. However we, as Witches, have an awareness of Divinity not just as an external force that may or may not directly influence our lives, but as an internal force that connects us all to the Divine and to each other. The potential for Divine Deliverance resides within each and everyone of us.

My husband has occasionally pulled me up on using the phrase ‘Someone was looking out for them’ and on some level I agree with him. It can imply that those who suffer are not being watched over or protected by a Deity, and it does devalue the most obvious influence in many forms of deliverance – us. Sometimes, when we thank the Gods for a situation, we are inadvertently disrespecting the time, energy and skills of those people who have come to our aid. Those people who spend their lives and risk their lives helping others deserve our acknowledgement and gratitude, regardless of their belief or disbelief in Deity and their personal role within the Divine All. Sometimes when we thank the Gods for sparing us or our loved ones, we are inadvertently devaluing the lives and impact of others who did not share in our good fortune. We may express gratitude for our own well-being, but we should never allow that to overshadow another persons grief as if their lives are worth less, or as if they simply didn’t ‘pray hard enough’. Sometimes we stand untouched in a natural disaster, whilst our neighbors lives and livelihoods are devastated. Instead of wondering why we were delivered from disaster and they were not, we can take an active role in their deliverance. We can extend the hand of Divinity within to assist others in their time of need. Our interaction, our help, our support, may well be the answer to their prayer, just as others can be the answer to ours.

helping-hand

Whether we attribute our own strength in times of adversity to our connection with Divinity, to nature, or to nurture, we should remember that to someone else the hand we extend in support may be seen as the hand of the Divine. Some may see us as the instrument of a God or Goddess, and some may see us as the instrument of our own salvation. We rescue ourselves and one another. Even in the doubt of Divinity, we each have the power of deliverance.

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Comments
  1. S.C. Tanner says:

    An excellent statement, regardless of one’s faith. Recognition (or discernment) of divine intervention, and recognizing when we play a role in such, is a lost art. We have become blind to signs, omens, and portents. This is probably due to such things being relegated to superstition. However, you seem to clearly portray the spiritual contradiction.

    Like

    • Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed this post. It can be a difficult concept to explain, especially to those of differing faiths or atheists, that one can be perceived as the hand of Divine Deliverance regardless of your personal views and spiritual beliefs. I truly believe that extending a hand of support, assistance or comfort can make all the difference to a person in difficulty or grief. And looking back in my own life, I can see that many of the hands that reached for me were answers to my own prayers.

      Like

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