Saturday, September 03, 2016

I Was the Lion

We finished up the third Narnia book today, and I thought I would share my favorite part that I read aloud a few nights ago.  Shasta has just related how he feels to be "the unluckiest person in the whole world." He was orphaned, raised by an unkind man, chased by lions, in danger from bad men in a great city, slept among tombs, thought he was going to be eaten by wild beast, traveled across the great desert, had nothing to eat for a day, and was repetitively chased by lions. Then the lion, Aslan disagrees and tells him:
I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man Sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.
Asian tells him all of this as they are walking in the middle of the night in thick fog through the mountains. Two days later Shasta is crossing them again during the day and observes:
The hillside path which they were following became narrower all the time and the drop in their right hand became steeper. At last they were going in single file along the edge of a great precipice and Shasta shuddered to think that he had done the same last night without knowing it. "But of course" he thought, "I was quite safe. That is why the Lion kept on my left. He was between me and the edge all the time."
When I read it the other night it was a potent reminder that very often when things are seemingly at their worst that God is with us in the midst of things, even when we don't see him.  The providence of God is a wonderful comfort, even if it is hard to see and understand.  I know that there were times in underemployment that he providentially intervened impressing someone to send us a check when we had no way to pay the power bill.  He provided a job in Indiana when we couldn't have continued another day without it.  Literally, Gary ran out of gas on the way home from the interview, and we had no savings left, no money coming in, and no room left on the credit cards.  However, I don't for a minute think that we were without work for so long because the job He intended for us or planned for us, wasn't open yet.  We make choices while we live here and there are consequences for our actions now, and sometimes other people just don't chose you for a job.

Which brings me to another point, while I love the beauty of God intervening on behalf of his people.  I ABSOLUTELY hate it when I see people talking about how God has plans to prosper us.  They get this erroneous idea from the NIV translation of Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  The actual verse reads something entirely different, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."  God doesn't have plans for our daily lives, we have the ability to follow him, and grow and find blessings in that, or we have the ability to be disobedient and be chastened for that.  God predestined a particular people to be His people and did everything necessary to save them (see Romans 8).  However, he doesn't cause all things that come to pass.  He doesn't work evil to bring good from it.  That would merely make us puppets on a string, and that would bring no glory to God.

In Jeremiah 29, God is telling the nation of Israel that they are going into captivity and that it's not going to be an afternoon trip.  They are going to be there for 70 years, so they are to build houses, work, establish a home, pray for those in power.  But that at the end of that time of punishment and exile that He will allow them to return home.  They will not live always away.  That is the immediate context, the long term context is that at the end of our life time here in this world, we too are going to return home, and our expected end will be in Heaven with Him.

How shallow and foolish of us today in America to assume that God has plans to divinely intervene and prosper us and no harm will come to us.  Do we fail to consider his children throughout history and in the rest of the world today?  People who right now are being beheaded and persecuted for being Christian.  And I don't mean persecuted because someone hurt their feelings when they said something not nice, but literally loosing their livelihood, literally losing their very lives.

I don't think God took my daughter.  I don't think he is in the business of doing cruel and evil things.  I don't think it's some grand plan for my good.  I do think, even though like Shasta I have at times felt like, I'm the unluckiest person in the world, He was with me.  I haven't always seen Him, but like Shasta in the fog in the darkest midnight on a cold and lonely path, I have felt Him.  I am sure that there have been times that He has intervened in my life and directed me, like Shasta and Aravis were steered together.  There have been times He has comforted me, like the cat comforted Shasta.  And no matter how bad things get here, after all we've been promised "in this world ye shall have tribulation" (john 16:33), I have an expected end, after this life is over.

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