Narnia

If you haven’t read the “Chronicles of Narnia” books, perhaps you’ve seen the movie or at least heard of the magical storybook land. Sung into existence by Aslan the Lion, and under his powerful and faithful protection, Narnia is a place unlike any other – and especially unlike its neighbor to the south – Calormen.

Which is where the third chronological book of the series, “The Horse and His Boy,” (which Ada and I are currently reading) begins. Calormen is a country ruled by a monarch called the “Tisroc” (whose name, when spoken, must be followed by the phrase “May he live forever”) and a ruling class called the “Tarkaans”. But more than the monarch himself, the forces of rank, entitlement, and therefore, strife, preside over Calormene society.  

IMG_20190219_115415-01

The main character is a boy named Shasta who, as we are introduced to him, is about to be purchased by a Tarkaan to become his slave. But while the transaction is being finalized, Shasta meets the Tarkaan’s horse – who just happens to be a talking horse from Narnia. Shasta listens as the horse, whose name is Bree, describes his homeland:

“Narnia,” answered the Horse. “The happy land of Narnia—Narnia of the heathery mountains and the thymy downs, Narnia of the many rivers, the plashing glens, the mossy caverns and the deep forests ringing with the hammers of the Dwarfs. Oh the sweet air of Narnia! An hour’s life there is better than a thousand years in Calormen.”*

It turns out that Bree, who had been kidnapped and brought to Calormen, was waiting for an opportunity to escape and return to Narnia, but needed a rider in order to not be captured for being a ‘stray’ horse. Shasta, also eager to escape, agrees to be his rider. Bree is slightly concerned, though, as young Shasta has never ridden a horse – which leads to this very important part of the conversation:

“Poor little beast,” said the Horse in a gentler tone. “I forget you’re only a foal. We’ll make a fine rider of you in time. And now—we mustn’t start until those two in the hut are asleep. Meantime we can make our plans. My Tarkaan is on his way north to the great city, to Tashbaan itself and the court of the Tisroc——”

“I say,” put in Shasta in rather a shocked voice, “oughtn’t you to say May he live forever?”

“Why?” asked the Horse. “I’m a free Narnian. And why should I talk slaves’ and fools’ talk? I don’t want him to live forever, and I know that he’s not going to live forever whether I want him to or not. And I can see you’re from the free north too. No more of this southern jargon between you and me! And now, back to our plans.”*

Being a “free Narnian” meant that Bree had no obligation to bow to the Calormen monarch. Even though he existed in Calormen and even though he could have faced consequences for not saying “May he live forever,” he didn’t because he knew he didn’t have to. Bree knew something greater, Narnia, existed and he knew he was securely a citizen of Narnia, and so he was able to exist within Calormen, but not be enslaved to its forces.

The “Calormen” that we live in isn’t much different. Instead of the Tisroc, though, it’s our own fragile egos that we hold up and bow down to in worship, “May they live forever!”. Balanced on the pedestal of our own moral or personal superiority, we can’t help but criticize (and panic at the slightest criticism of ourselves). Obsessed with getting what we believe we’re owed, we walk in entitlement (and then can’t.handle.life. when we don’t get what we think we should get). Turning all of our energy toward the uplifting of the “self,” we’ve become angry, stressed, and depressed.

In his gospel, John tells us that Jesus knew “that he had come from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3). Jesus existed in this land of rank, entitlement, and strife, but because He knew something so much greater existed and that He was securely part of that and returning to that, He did not ever, even for a second, bow down to those forces. Rather than pulling rank, demanding what was rightly his, or striving in competition, He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).

And contrary to our instincts, the result of this emptying and service was not anger, stress, or depression – it was freedom. Because Jesus did not exert all of His energy in the grasping and lifting up of His human ego, He was released from slavery to it.

As a follower of Jesus and a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, I have a secret! I know about “Narnia”. I know there is something greater than all this rank, entitlement, and strife, and I know I’m securely a part of it. As a “free Narnian,” I don’t have to bow down to my own fragile ego. I don’t have to worry that someone’s going to push me off my pedestal – because I know I don’t belong there anyway. I don’t have to be disappointed when people don’t give me what I want – because I already have everything I’ve ever needed in Jesus. I don’t have to be offended when someone doesn’t lift me up – because I’ve already been given the greatest uplifting ever as a child of God.

Liberated from the burden of having to hold my “self” up, I’m free to follow Jesus’ example. If I’m not busy making a big deal about me, then I’m free to “count others more significant than [myself]” (Philippians 2:3). If my mental space isn’t consumed by figuring out how to get what I’m owed, I’m free to look “to the interests of others” (2:4). Without carrying the weight of a heavy shield of defense, I’m free to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (2:14).

Although Bree the talking horse was born in Narnia, he had lived the majority of his life in Calormen. So though he knew about Narnia, he had some anxiety about returning there.

Near the end of the journey, Bree encounters a friendly Hermit who gives him some advice:

“It doesn’t follow that you’ll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you’re nobody very special, you’ll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another.”*

Contrary to our instincts, freedom comes from the surrender of self rather than the exalting of it. Holding my ego up is an exhausting, 24/7/365, full-time job that Jesus has released me from!

*”The Horse and His Boy” by C.S. Lewis

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Overcorrect

Speaking of driving… You know those video games where you have to drive a car or steer some sort of random wheeled object along a narrow, winding, hazard-filled course? I’m terrible at them. While some people (i.e. my husband and children) hit every speed-boost, avoid every obstacle, and make every turn with ease, I miss every boost, hit every obstacle, and crash on every corner!

Because I’m a chronic over-corrector.

Though some seasoned video-game-drivers have the patience and skill to navigate a course, I’m an impatient panic-er! I see myself headed toward a wall, so I steer left as hard as I can. Which immediately sends me headlong into the wall on the left. And when I see that coming, I jerk the controls back to the right and you know what happens next – CRASH!

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190212151259981_COVER-01

Us over-correctors know the struggle applies not only to video games, but to the rest of life as well.

When I see a flaw in my self, I want to fix it. I’m aware of the wall I’m about to run into and, in my attempt to avoid the crash, I send myself headlong in the other direction. It seems so clear in the moment: “This is what I need to do and I’m going to do it!” But then I try and no matter how hard I try to steer that wheel in the right direction, I can’t seem to control myself and I end up flailing toward some ticking-time-bomb hazard and blowing up anyway.

It’s hard to rest when there’s so much work to be done on me. Following Jesus means transformation, and even though I’m not who I once was, I’m still not the follower I’d like to be. And it’s not just about me – all the people I interact with would certainly benefit from my transformation as well!

In his letter to the Romans, Paul follows up his presentation of the gospel message with a practical application of our salvation:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-2a)

Paul goes on to talk about the transformed life as it works itself out in our relationships, summing it up with these words in chapter 15:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

In both of these passages, the important thing to note are the verbs that indicate how the change in us happens. Notice that we are to “be transformed,” not “to transform” and that it is God who “gives” us the attitude of mind that Christ Jesus had, not ourselves. It’s also important to note the “so that” which is the motivation behind His work.

There are many “pattern[s] of this world” we are tempted to conform to, but one of the most dangerous is the self-help model. Motivational quotes, books, and articles promise a “better” you if you’ll just take these three easy steps. The “you” you want to be is within your reach! Put in the work and that “self” you’ve always desired will be yours.

The problem is that nothing in the self-help model matches up with Romans 12:1-2 or 15:5-6. Because there’s nothing in there about a “better” me or three easy steps. I don’t see the “me” I want to be listed in there as a goal. And the only “work” mentioned is a word that implies the opposite of “self”-help.

Offering my body as a sacrifice means just that – sacrifice. The “me” I want to be is being laid on the altar along with “my” desire to change “me” so I can be “better”. Offering something means releasing ownership of it and offering me means giving up my attempts to perfect “me”.

Self-help leads to extremes because our “selves” are hard to control. But when I offer myself, I rest. It’s not that effort is not required, it’s that the focus of my effort is no longer on changing myself. Rather, my effort is directed in the offering of myself, on a moment by moment basis, submitting to God so that His glory might be displayed in me.

I’ve been convicted as I write this that even my most noble efforts at change are still “self” focused. Because even if my goal is to have a “better” marriage or be a “better” parent, it’s still rooted in my own fulfillment! I need to change that! 😉

I’m so glad God is not in a hurry to make me the “me” I want to be and that even in my overcorrecting He’s still working. The “me” He wants me to be is His work in progress and He’s got all the patience and skill needed to make it happen!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Bumps

Speaking of our elementary school… It’s only a block or so from our house, but I never drive by it.

Why? You might ask.

Speed bumps! I would answer.

Unless I am going to the school for an event, I avoid that section of Caley Road at all cost. As I do with Keebler and several other roads in our area. I will take the long way around (even if it takes more time) because I do not like my sense of movement to be interrupted!

IMG_20190205_161021-01

Nothing hinders “rest” in our lives than bumps in the road. We had a plan, we saw the vision of where we were headed, and we were moving in that direction at a good pace. But then ughhh – something came up and slowed us down. We think we’ve finally got it together, but a change in circumstances stalls the progress. Or someone we thought we could depend on isn’t coming through with their piece of the puzzle. We like our plans to work out and when they don’t seem to be, we get restless.

As a speed bump avoider, I can relate to King Saul’s predicament in 1 Samuel 13. Having gathered troops for battle with the Philistines, Saul’s instructions were to wait for the prophet Samuel, who would offer a sacrifice to the Lord before the battle. The massive Philistine army had approached and encamped, and Saul’s troops were “quaking with fear”. So…

He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. (v. 8)

Ughhh. Speed bump. This was not part of the plan! With his chances of winning the battle shrinking by the minute, he had to get things moving.

So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. (v. 9)

But…

Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

“What have you done?” asked Samuel.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” (v. 10-12)

Like Saul, my restlessness always leads to me feeling “compelled”. Compelled to speed things up a little. Compelled to keep moving to avoid the angst of sitting still. Compelled to take things into my own hands.

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (v. 13-14)

That “man after [the Lord’s] own heart” was David, the writer of these words:

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)

Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15)

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

When we trust, we rest. There’s no fast-track to God’s plan, and I’ve found that more often than not, He builds the bumps into our routes to force the drop in speed and, in that, reveal whether our hearts are after His plans or our own.

What’s your “Samuel” today?

God, I thought ________________ was part of the plan and that it would have happened by now. Help me to trade my restlessness for trust so I’m no longer compelled to do things my own way. Amen.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Walk

Since we began our elementary school journey seven years ago, we’ve endeavored to be a “walking” family. The exercise and fresh air are good for our souls and from door-to-door the trip is only about ⅓ mile.

Or it was until construction began.

When our school began construction two years ago, the sidewalk going in our direction was closed, which extended our walking distance. We now had to walk an extra block-ish, cross the road, and then walk back toward the school entrance. We couldn’t wait for construction to end and our shorter route to be restored.

And as of this November, it was!

But then this happened:

1472267601

You see that crosswalk? The shortest route to the first-grade entrance is obviously to cross there and continue to the right. But we have it on good word that, rather than cross where buses are coming in and out of the loop (red), school authorities would prefer that students cross where there is little to no traffic (green). Our “shorter” route has not been restored!

If you’re a rule-following kid, your rule-following parents are your heroes. If you’re an oblivious-to-the-rules kid, your rule-following parents just confuse you. But if you’re an above-the-rules kid, your rule-following parents drive you crazy!

Yes, we could take the shortcut and cross the bus loop (we’re basically holding her hand, after all). But we don’t. And though every step of that extra loop at first seemed a mile long, it’s now become part of our routine (and we don’t even get many complaints anymore 😉).

In 12+ years of parenting and 20+ years of youth ministry, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned do’s and don’ts, tips and tricks, but mostly I’ve learned that I could do everything right and still not ‘succeed’. Because there are some giant factors outside of my control. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to cleanse my children from their particular sin patterns or prevent the struggles that are inherent in their personality and temperament.

But through all I’ve observed and experienced, I have narrowed down the one thing I can do that will affect my children more than anything else: REST.

Whether we like it or not, our stress levels affect our kids. We know this, but we also know stress is a part of life that will never be eliminated. Tight schedules, long to-do lists, relationship tensions, health woes, and difficult decisions are our every day. Who has time to rest? (Especially when you have kids!)

The cool thing about “rest,” from a biblical perspective, is that it doesn’t necessarily mean stopping. Rest, in most instances in the Bible, exists simultaneously with movement:

This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
   ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
   and you will find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah 6:16)

“Rest for your soul” is a natural product of walking in obedience. Though we tend to think of obedience as a burden – something to add to our already long list of stressors – it’s the opposite. Rest is found when we seek God’s ways and then actively walk in them.

Jesus was our ultimate example of the “rest for your soul” kind of life – and not just when He was sleeping on the boat! 😉 Jesus entered into all kinds of stress-filled situations, but in the midst of those situations, He exuded peace because He lived in complete trust that the path His Father had for Him in that moment was nothing but “good”.

Whether your stress is in the daily grind or you’re under an unusually heavy weight, “rest for your soul” happens when you “ask where the good way is” and then “walk in it,” reminding yourself that each step leads to your good and God’s glory.

Our steps of obedience can at times feel painstakingly unnecessary, but with each step our trust increases. Over time, trust becomes a way of life and that way of life looks a lot like “rest”.

Being a rule-following parent may drive your kids crazy now, but someday they’ll thank you! 😎

img_20190129_084059-01

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Melt

When “winter weather” threatens Pennsylvania, people get real excited. Weather reports and warnings flood our screens, grocery stores are mobbed with shoppers preparing for the worst, and everything shuts down.

We (former) *Vermonters*, however, like to sit back and laugh. Because where we grew up a little bit of snow was just a little bit of snow!

Last week, we woke up to a fresh coating of white and like true (former) *Vermonters* we looked out and said, “No big deal!” While others may have been out shoveling and clearing, we did nothing. When we walked through the ½ inch of powder to the cars on our very sloped driveway, we thought, “What’s a little snow? It’s just going to melt soon anyway!”

Until that evening when that fresh coating, which had partially melted during the day, froze to form a sheet of ice!

You would love to have had a hidden camera on our driveway over the next couple of days. Getting us and our kids and our stuff in and out of our cars while using all of our grip strength to avoid landing on our backs was a sight to be seen. The funny thing is, it wouldn’t have taken that long to walk the 20 feet into the carport, grab a cup of ice-melting rock salt from the bag and fix the problem!

But we’re *Vermonters* remember?

(Or maybe we’re just lazy 😜)

img_20190122_115755-01

As humans, we are prone to taking this (former) *Vermonter* approach to our hearts. We know something might not be quite right, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal, and surely it will go away soon! The development of dangerous hardness in our hearts (see last week’s post) isn’t something we ever see coming.

Thankfully, God hasn’t left us alone to figure it out – He’s given us churches full of friends to become our hard-heart-melting rock salt.

The idea of using salt to melt ice is has always confused me. When the salt is spread, it comes in contact with the wet outer layer of the ice and dissolves. In that process, it (somehow) lowers the freezing temperature of the molecules it comes in contact with, and with the freezing temperature lowered, the ice is ‘tricked’ into melting at that lower temperature. Not a scientific explanation, I know, but that’s how I see it 😉

A salty friend “sticks” (Proverbs 18:24) close, but not just for their own benefit. They are studiers of “you” and it’s through them and their outside perspective that God’s loving “truth” (Ephesians 4:15) is sprinkled on your heart. The truth may feel like a “wound” (Proverbs 27:6) because at first it feels cold, but that’s where the melting process begins.

A salty friend is someone who gets you but doesn’t always agree with you.

A salty friend cares about you, but also cares enough to gently nudge you off your high-horse when the frost of pride is settling in.

A salty friend dreams with you about what could be, but is also willing to burst your bubble when you might be taking on too much.

A salty friend listens to you vent, but ends the conversation by reminding you how much you have to be thankful for.

A salty friend listens, but doesn’t hesitate to interrupt and point out that your view of a situation has excluded trust in the God who is above it all.

img_20190122_115449-01

If you want to know if a storm is coming to our area, you don’t need to check the weather forecast, you just need to take a drive and see if they’ve “sprayed” the roads with salt brine yet. Science and the transportation authorities have figured out that prevention of the freeze is the best way to remedy it!

When it comes to hard hearts, prevention of the freeze by talking regularly with a salty friend is the best remedy.

Building intentional friendships with other believers is all kinds of hard. It can be awkward and bring out the *middle-schooler* in us. It can take longer for these friendships to develop than we think it should and the process requires extra flexibility as our seasons constantly shift. You may wonder if you really even need this in your life!

But you do. The stuff in your heart may seem like a little bit of powder, but the hidden camera on your driveway is revealing a different story!

If you have a salty friend, thank them today.

If not, what’s one step you can take toward making that happen?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Frozen

When it’s 75° and sunny, I have lots of motivation to get out of the house and go for a run. When it’s 50° and cloudy, I can still muster up some enthusiasm. But when it’s 30° or below I need supernatural power – or at least someone else to drag me out the door 😉

This winter, I have someone to do just that! Tim and I have set a goal to do at least one trail run a week – regardless of the temperature and weather conditions (😱). Motivated by a bucket list of trails we want to complete, we’ve braved the cold and succeeded thus far.

Since winter in Pennsylvania = cold and damp, most trails require careful, slow maneuvering through sections of slippery mud and muck. So a few weeks ago when we set out on the Chapel Trail in Valley Forge and temperatures had just risen out of the 20’s, I was happy to see that all the mud on this shaded trail was frozen. This meant more running and less thinking, which was good because I just wanted to get this over with and get back in my warm house!

Unfortunately, my ankles reminded me that just because something is hardened doesn’t mean it’s solid or secure. Though mud is slippery, it does absorb your foot’s impact – which the crusty ridges and ruts of frozen trail-traffic do not!

img_20181211_105605-01

If you live in Pennsylvania, you know that temperatures at this time of the year are unpredictable. We usually hover in the 40’s, but it’s not unusual for us to drop, for several days, into the single digits.

And wherever you live, you know this is also true of our hearts. Our seasons and the atmospheric conditions they bring with them affect us more than we like to think and if we aren’t careful, the freeze can leave us hardened and crusty!

“Hard” hearts are present throughout Scripture and occur for several different reasons:

  • The Egyptian Pharaoh’s (Exodus 7-11) was the result of his refusal to acknowledge an authority higher than himself.
  • The Israelites’ (Psalm 95) was the product of disappointment after God didn’t do things the way they expected Him to.
  • For the “Gentiles” mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 4, it was denial that another being could have a say over their life of self-fulfillment and pleasure.
  • The disciples’ (Mark 6 & 8) came from an incomplete understanding of Jesus’ power over the forces of nature.

Hard hearts in the Bible were always the result of either unbelief or more specifically mis-belief in God’s nature or intentions. In most cases this hardness developed over time, in barely noticeable stages, as the heart slowly stopped absorbing truth, leaving its own truth to be preeminent.

When we think of “hard hearts” it’s easy to think of these Bible characters or even other people we know, but the whole thing with a hard heart is the subtle nature of the freeze. It happens when I allow a trust in my own authority and ability to make decisions to creep in, rather than regularly praying and submitting my will to God’s will. The frost permeates when I allow my life circumstances to speak louder to me than the Scriptures that speak of the nature of my God. The chill settles in when I stick a “not a big deal” label on my sin and decide I’m okay with “okay”. And the ice forms when I get so honed in on my own life that I limit my understanding of what God can do to my own experiences.

img_20181211_105525-01

Last year I began studying the book of John verse-by-verse, but because I believe it’s important to stay flexible, I took a break and did some other studies. I was excited to pick back up where I left off this January, and that excitement lasted… all of a few days. First came a passage I’ve studied and taught on many, many times, so I’m kind of over it. Second was a passage that seemed overly theologically complicated and not worth my time. And when I got through that, guess what? Another passage I’ve studied and taught on so.many.times.

My heart wants me to do the bare minimum, shut my Bible, and move on because “I already know all of this” and “Maybe I should look for something more exciting to study”. But I also know that this is exactly how those crusty ridges and ruts begin to form. Even if I’m not learning something super new and cool (or finding something I can write a super new and cool blog post about 😉), the interaction of my heart with God’s Word is keeping it warm and absorbent!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Presence

When my friend Sue and I drove away from the Las Vegas airport headed for a tour of the National Parks of Utah, I expected to be impressed. Though I grew up in the mountains of Vermont and had taken in many of the east coast’s best views, I’d heard from several sources: “You haven’t seen anything yet!”.

As we toured the parks, I was certainly impressed, but what I didn’t expect was that one of my most awe-inspiring moments would not be a mountain, but a giant slab of rock in the middle of the desert.

presence-01

From a distance, the sandstone “fins” in Arches National Park looked cool and I was excited to hike among them. We saw many spectacular things that day, but I’ll never forget the moment I stood at the bottom of this and looked up:

presence 2

I couldn’t help but stand there for a minute, soaking in the sheer enormity and overwhelming presence of this rock. It seemed to rise up forever and also seemed like it might lean over and crush me at any minute!

People are annoying. We all have habits, quirks, and mannerisms that drive each other crazy. And though chewing loudly, pronouncing words incorrectly, or being unaware of personal space can be irritating, it’s the addition of our natural lean towards sin that really irks each other. All sin can be narrowed down to self-focused, self-interested, self-fulfilling behavior – and man, do we hate it when other people are selfish!

We can (at times) dismiss the rude cashiers, slow drivers, or the hygienically-unaware, but when someone else’s self-interest interferes with or threatens our plans, desires, comfort, or well-being, our brains (and blood pressure!) go into high gear and we respond with judgment.

Jesus is pretty clear in his rebuke toward our judgy behavior:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

In order to survive as humans, we need to judge. If our minds did not have the ability to discern right and wrong at some level, we would be in danger of extinction! The problem is that we take the verb “judge” and switch it to the noun “judge” by marching up to the bench, sitting down, and slamming down our verdict. Eve’s temptation in Genesis 3 was the potential to “be like God, knowing good and evil” and, since then, we’ve all been born believing we are the ultimate authority on right and wrong.

Though we do have the potential to be “like” God in many ways (we can be loving, joyful, patient, kind, gentle, and good) there are some ways we will never be like Him. Abilities like creating something out of nothing, having power over the forces of nature, giving life, and judging in complete, unbiased truth are reserved for God and God alone. The Judge’s seat is taken, there is no jury, and no apprentice positions are available!

A few weeks ago, after several years of begging and pleading, one of my kids finally agreed to read through the Chronicles of Narnia with me. We’re reading in chronological order, so we began with the prequel to the series, “The Magician’s Nephew”.

In this story, Digory (the magician’s nephew) and his friend Polly accidentally land themselves in a strange, dark world just in time to experience Aslan the lion’s creation and introduction of life to Narnia. Unfortunately, Digory and Polly also accidentally bring with them the evil queen Jadis, whose presence threatens Narnia’s peace and beauty.

Aslan sends the children on a mission to retrieve an apple from a special tree and bring it back to him. In the garden, Digory is tempted by Queen Jadis to use the eternal life-giving apple for his own purposes, but (*SPOILER ALERT*) he resists and returns the fruit to Aslan in victory:

“Well done,” said Aslan in a voice that made the earth shake. Then Digory knew that all the Narnians had heard those words and that the story of them would be handed down from father to son in that new world for hundreds of years and perhaps forever. But he was in no danger of feeling conceited for he didn’t think about it at all now that he was face to face with Aslan.”*

presence 3-01

When I’m far away I might feel big, but when I’m close-up and looking up, there’s no chance of being high on me. Putting myself in the presence of the only One who is all-present, all-knowing, and all-righteous is the best way to be reminded that I am none of those things (and that I may, in fact, be at the top of someone else’s “annoying” list!).

Holy Spirit, overwhelm my mind with so much awe and wonder at the sheer enormity of Your greatness and goodness that there’s no longer any room for self-conceit. Reveal to me today any situation where I have snuck up and tried to take Your judge’s seat. Interrupt my trains of thought when I believe myself to be the source of all truth and speak Your truth to me. Amen.

*The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, Chapter 14

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.