I read a particular book religiously. In fact, I've read it cover to cover, since I was 13, on average, every year. Yes, that makes it about 18 times, give or take a few. [Yes, Danny, over 18 times...jerk. LOL!]
My confession is that it's not the Bible. It's Dune by Frank Herbert. From the first time I read it, Dune has captivated my imagination. A science fiction book that is quite heady, the storyline weaves issues of politics, psychology, ecology, and religion together to form an exciting messianic story.
In the Appendices (yes, I read them each time as well), there is a quotation that struck me last night as I finished up 2009's reading: "Every man is a little war."
From the Islamic concept of the inner struggle or jihad, Herbert's Fremen religion speaks of how each person must continually fight all of the forces within themselves. From our biological impulses to our learned vices to our beliefs and who we choose to be, each of us has a plethora of voices crying out to have us and control us. To be truly human is to win that war, or perhaps to even engage in the struggle.
Jihad has rightly earned a "bad" name as of late; however, when I was in a Philosophy of Religion class at Purdue, I remember learning how Jihad was primarily understood as this inner struggle. I loved the concept as it really resonated with my Christian faith, too. Romans 7:14-25 speaks of this struggle, of our own personal war. 1 Timothy 4:6-10 also speaks of how we need to continually refine our spiritual selves like an athlete or soldier as we face our own struggles.
Understanding that each of us is in our own turmoil, I believe helps us understand each other better...allowing us to offer Grace a bit freer, and to forgive a bit quicker. I know my war...I know my struggles.
Perhaps, seeing each person as a 'little war' helps me offer them the love that God is continually offering this 'little war', named Mark.