Have you ever felt like things are going swimmingly in everyone’s life around you, meanwhile you’re drowning? Do you ever get stuck in your own stuff?
Ya, me too.
I love the power of a good story. This summer I’ve been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia with my kids. We started with The Magician’s Nephew and have almost completed A Horse and His Boy. The only book in the series I read as a child was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so this is a special treat for me.
In C.S. Lewis’ famous series, he brilliantly provides several illustrations of God’s love for us. As the Christian allegory goes, Lewis uses the character Aslan (a lion) to represent Jesus.
Last night’s chapter struck me. We often seek to understand why bad things happen, in our own journey and in the lives of others. It is in times of walking alone in darkness that we realize God is there. He has been there the whole time, waiting for us to speak.
Shasta (the “boy” in A Horse and His Boy) was lost. He was wandering in the dark on a lonely road, dwelling on his misfortune. It was in this dark place that he met Aslan for the first time.
“I do think, said Shasta, “that I must be the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me.”
His mind was racing and he was drowning in his circumstances. Can you relate? His thoughts were consumed with all the bad things that had happened to him. He can no longer rely on his own strength. It is in this moment of complete emptiness when he realizes Aslan’s presence.
“And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks. What put a stop to all this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing.”
Have you ever walked Shasta’s road? Have you walked along in darkness? Felt completely alone, yet realized you weren’t alone?
“Who are you?” Shasta said, scarcely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep. “Tell me your sorrows.”
Wow. I forgot. God wants to hear my sorrows. My tendency is to try and suck it up and stay positive. To not complain. To rely on my own strength. God wants to hear your sorrows.
Shasta told now how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.
God’s response to your sorrows is to tell you your story.
“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and—
“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the 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…”
God not only knows your story, he is an integral part of it.
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, ” I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
He tells no one any story but his own.
I have struggled while I watch friends suffer. Children get cancer. Spouses leave. Breadwinners lose jobs. Why? I’m not told any story but my own.
In my own story, I’ve walked some dark roads. I’ve felt sorry for myself. I’ve lamented the attack of several lions.
I’ve felt like everyone around me is happily married while I’m going through the pain of divorce. Like all the girls at the ballet studio are gleefully dancing while my daughter cries in the corner. Like I gave up my career for over a decade and there’s no way I can get it back. Like all my friends carry their designer handbags and drive carpool and complain when their husbands are out of town for a week while I take out the trash at midnight…again.
But God longs for me to speak. He wants me to share my sorrows. And in conversing with him, I’m reminded he is with me and an integral part of my story.
There is only one Lion.
Does this allegory speak to you? When are some times you’ve realized God is telling you your story?