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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“Let Us Take the Adventure that Aslan Sends Us...”

C. S. Lewis is my favorite author and his Chronicles of Narnia my favorite stories. We often listen to the Family Bible Radio version when on long trips in the car, so much so that I can’t count how many times my wife and I have listened. Our family’s trek into Narnia began years ago when our children were very small and each night Kathy would read aloud a chapter before the kids went to sleep. We lived in Panama at that time serving as missionaries, and Kathy’s nightly ritual was not only a favorite for our children, but became mine as well. For whatever reason, I had never read them before and became fascinated with the characters and the parallels that Lewis’ paints of the Christian life in each book. Aslan, the lion, understood as the Christ figure, and his power, wisdom and love, as well as teaching the children lessons about themselves and himself are the dominating themes.

Recently, on a return trip from Atlanta to New Orleans, we listened again to the last of the seven books, “The Last Battle,” and was taken by a phrase I had often heard in some of the other books, but seemed to come alive at this hearing. More than once, the major characters, facing an uncertain future or even death itself, place themselves under the “care of the Lion” and in courage and obedience to him say, “Let us now take the adventure that Aslan sends us...” I apologize for those that might not be familiar with the books, for these words would certainly not mean much without their context, and especially the context of having read the Chronicles. Be that as it may, I believe that Lewis’ insight into human character and biblical truth can give valuable help to not only the children for who the books were written, but on a much deeper level for the rest of us.

The truth is that many times we find ourselves at a point of obedience, but surrounded by uncertainty. When this happens, we must come to the point to act on our belief, to engage our trust is who God is, and what He has promised. We will be driven by our fear, or fed by our faith, but either way, we choose which will inform our decision. We must come to the point that we step out in faith and “take the adventure that God sends us.”

I would like to reference an occasion in the life of Christ that on the surface may not seem to have any connection whatsoever, but hopefully might have some parallels or points of contact. While on the cross, our Lord cries out the first verse of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We must understand that David must have been going through some unspeakable horror himself, to have written what is written, and later is understood as fulfillment of prophecy in the life of Christ. In Matthew’s account of the crucifixion [chapter 27], the Jewish leadership had already been mocking Christ with the phrases, “he saved others, he, himself he cannot save; if God delights in him, let God save him.” [27:42-43] Jesus’ cry of Psalm 22:1 comes some three hours later. The witnesses of this Roman execution could not have avoided seeing the nails in his hands and feet, which references Psalm 22:16. The point is that many times we stop there in looking at Psalm 22 and the crucifixion, and miss the transition of faith and hope that is found in the end. Verse 24, states: “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” I would encourage you to complete a study of the entire psalm, for there is not space or time in this context, but as you do, you will discover that David does not end with the same despair that he begun. In the midst of deep despair, God is there. In the face of hurt and confusion, disillusionment, God is in control.

“So what of it?” you may ask. Jesus, of course, would have been familiar with the entire psalm as would have many at Golgotha that day. In a similar fashion that one might think of the entirety of Psalm 23, by only hearing the phrase “the Lord is my Shepherd,” many might have remembered the ending of Psalm 22 and the hope and confidence in the midst of suffering that David verbalized. So the expression of the anguish on the cross is not just a reference of the incredible agony of the Son of God dying and paying the price to redeem all humanity, but giving the implied hope of victory as well. [I am indebted to Mrs. Jessica McMillan, one of our DMA students and her work in “biblical laments” for help in this area and to Dr. Dennis Cole, Professor of Hebrew at the seminary for his insights and encouragements in the vast areas of biblical worship that virtually lays untouched in worship today.]

Having anguished over the decision in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, in full obedience to complete what had to be done for our redemption, did not run away, but accepted what he knew would soon happen. One might say that He “took the adventure that God had sent.” We too, in faith can approach these critical days with the confidence that God is in control. That, though the future may not seem bright, we too, are as Lewis puts it, “between the paws of the Lion.” God cares. God is in control. We can trust ourselves to Him. So the next time you face a seemingly impossible situation, take heart to remember, who is really in charge, so that you can “take the adventure that God has sent you.”

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