My Dear Wormwood

Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters?  If not, I highly recommend that you do.  In fact, here’s a link or you could drop by your favorite Barnes and Noble and pick it up for a little over $8. If you have read it, read it again.  For those of you who need a little more incentive before you buy it, I’ll give you a brief overview.  

The book is compiled of a series of letters from a lesser demon, known as Wormwood, to his authoritative uncle demon named Screwtape.  Screwtape is trying to train up the young Wormwood in the fiendish ways they follow.  So Wormwood pursues a regular man, whispering little nudges here and there, getting the him to make poor choices, which the demons hope will lead him away from ‘the Enemy’.  I know, my description makes it sound cliche and over simplified.  But the most intriguing facet of these letters?  Wormwood isn’t going about, trying to make Man commit murder or rob people;  he is simply giving insight into Man’s simple, everyday, and most mundane decisions.  Such is the way his seasoned uncle bids him to act.

… As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance.  Let the little brute wallow in it…  Let him do anything but act.  No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will…  The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.


  • C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, #13


We have heard of , and have perhaps committed (raises hand), the sin of inaction.  When you do nothing, when you should do something.

Along with this book, I write to tell you of the lovely song by The Oh Hello’s (one of my favorite bands).  It is titled ‘Dear Wormwood’ (how appropriate, right?).

Dear Wormwood | The Oh Hellos

When I was a child, I didn’t hear a single word you said

The things I was afraid of, they were all confined beneath my bed

But the years have been long, and you have taught me well to hide away

The things that I believed in, you’ve taught me to call them all escapes

I know who you are now


There before the threshold, I saw a brighter world beyond myself

And in my hour of weakness, you were there to see my courage fail

For the years have been long, and you have taught me well to sit and wait

Planning without acting, steadily becoming what I hate


I know who you are now


I have always known you, you have always been there in my mind

But now I understand you, and I will not be part of your designs


I know who I am now

And all that you’ve made of me

I know who you are now

And I name you my enemy


I know who I am now

I know who I want to be

I want to be more than this devil inside of me

Friends, I sit and wait.  Planning without acting, steadily becoming what I hate.  For example, Alex and I talk of the vision of Restore OKC, our love of it, how we want to be involved.  While he takes active steps and considerations, I sit and wait.  When the reality of our discussions grow, I shy away.  My tendency is to say, ‘that’s right and good for some people, but probably not us…  Certainly not me.’ There are other areas of life this shows up as well.

But inaction is not what the Lord calls us to.  I recognize these insidious habits and lines of thinking for what they are; lies that keep me from seeing the beauty of brokenness mended, of missing out on the grace and mercy He wants to show me.  I understand I must battle bad habits, idols, and falsehoods, even when they seem like good things.  For Wormwood is very subtle and talented in leading us to believe that the niceties we follow are enough; that my desires for good are enough.  I recognize and I confess, I want to be more than this devil inside of me.   

Remade in Christ, I know who I am now, and who I want to be.  While I will fail and have misgivings, I walk ever forward, ever toward a goal that often seems unobtainable.  And so I pray.  I act.  ‘Fake it till you make it’ has success in many places.  Creating good habits of prayer, even if you don’t ‘feel’ it or are frustrated by it in the beginning, will ultimately be for the good.  That is not to say that by changing habits, you can save yourself, but you can give your Father more love and respect by being a diligent son or daughter.  As C.S. Lewis so wisely said, love comes from the action of love.    

While this post may seem a little all over the place, I think it is fitting.  I will leave you with this hopeful verse from Psalms:

Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 42:11 & 43:5