Recently we moved some furniture out of our bedroom, and this morning I was straightening up the space a bit. On a bookshelf I came across the series of Narnia books that has been there since my children were quite young. Because I am easily distractable and hate cleaning, I picked up the one book that had fallen to the floor, The Horse and His Boy. I had never read this particular book in the series and had no idea of the plot or storyline; I still don’t. So, imagine my wonder as I thumbed through the pages and my eyes skimmed a page where a boy seemed to be telling the Lion, Aslan, of his troubles and questioning why the Lion hadn’t come to his aid. Here’s the quote from Aslan that got me,
“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 the new strength of fear for the last mill 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.”
I was struck by the fact that even in seemingly unpleasant circumstances, it had been the Lord’s hand at work in Aravis’ life. God is always working behind the scenes. Even in the places where it is hard, or scary, or we are weak beyond continuing. Sometimes God allows pain. Sometimes He allows failure. The only thing I have found that He promises during these times is His presence. And with His presence we have peace. And hope.
My natural inclination is to look for immediate relief when I feel distress. Barring any relief, I look for answers. I look at what I know, I seek advice, I scope out information online and from experts. That is not bad in itself, if I stopped there, but, I typically don’t. I want to find the ANSWER. I want to find the steps I need to take to bring about my desired result and then I WILL DO THE STEPS. SOMEBODY JUST TELL ME HOW TO FIX THIS. I WILL DO IT.
Of course, there is no magic formula, or seven easy steps, or secret sauce. I look around. I look at (fill-in-the-blank’s) life. (Fill-in-the-blank) seems to have found the secret. Look at her. She looks happy. Successful. Oddly, this unpleasant truth about my natural inclination to try and control – that sometimes leads to unhealthy (and often untrue or unrealistic) comparison, popped into my head as I continued to hold the book. I started to put it back, then for some reason brought it back to my line of vision and turned pages randomly. This is the last thing I read:
“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
Who is a God like our God? He is there. He sees. He will faithfully walk step by step with us through our stories, no matter the circumstances. The questions is, do we want to walk in obedience to Him as He guides, or will we continue to demand our own way, on our own timetable? The answer is the difference between peaceful hope or futile striving.