October 22, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Signs in our lives signal battle between good and evil

Kimberly PohoveyI’m one of those people who believes in signs. I like to think God is speaking to me through music, books, rainbows and other people. Sometimes I’m very intuitive to God’s voice. Other times, it seems I need a brick to the forehead for God to get my attention.

On a trip back from a recent Florida vacation, I experienced some not-so-subtle signs. Traveling through the deep South, I took note of the tone and messages of billboards along the highway. For every troubling billboard I would see on the left side of the highway, I immediately viewed an encouraging sign on the opposite side.

“Addicted to drugs?” one read. Then immediately I see a sign that read, “Worried? Jesus offers security.” The next few addressed alcohol, gambling and pornography addictions, with a sign immediately following that read, “Look to me and be saved. —Jesus.”

I saw a sign for an adult super store, followed by “Where are you going? Heaven or hell?”

The atheists’ signs crept into the mix. They read, “98 million Americans are living happily without God,” and “Just skip church. It’s all fake news.” And the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s billboard encouraged, “Sleep in on Sundays.” I chuckled at that one thinking, they obviously don’t know Catholics also offer Saturday Vigil Masses.

But all these messages were countered with Christian-related signs. “In the beginning, God created,” and a beautiful picture of a baby with the text, “There is evidence for God” offered hope.

There were signs whose intent appeared to be to frighten people into faith. I saw billboards such as “Hell is real,” and my personal favorite, “Go to church or the devil will get you.”

My journey was a veritable battle between good and evil, the message being that motorists were either on the road to heaven or a highway to hell.

I pondered what more God was trying to tell me. The messages I saw on this trip were pretty blatant, but when I began to think about good and evil in everyday life, I realized the battle was much more subtle. Sin isn’t always what we would consider extreme; sometimes it is giving into the smaller temptations in life—which often build into bigger transgressions.

Earlier this year, I participated in a study of the book, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. The premise was that the main character, Screwtape, is a demon.

Through a series of letters to his nephew, Wormwood, he counsels him on how to be an effective demon and bring more souls to the devil. The prevailing message I took away from the book is that the devil works on us through cunning ways. He sows seeds of doubt in us. He lures us into thoughts of greed or envy. He worms his way into and shrewdly twists our thoughts to his own devices. It isn’t a matter of a billboard screaming at us not to believe in God. Rather, he plants a kernel of doubt and then nurtures that thought.

Knowing this, I have experienced more instances of awareness. When I start down a path of thinking in wrong ways, I immediately say, “Go away devil” and I again feel centered on what is good.

And it makes me think of one final sign I viewed on the road of life: “I’m still in control. —Jesus.”

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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