I’d like to share a passage today from a book by Larry Crabb, entitled The Presure’s Off. This passage really spoke to me in various ways, so I’m passing it on…
In The Silver Chair, the fouth book of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, a girl named Jill is lost in a scary forest. She cries and cries and develops a terrible thirst. As she looks for water, she happens upon a stream and eagerly runs toward it. But then she notices a Lion is lying beside it.
She stops in her tracks. The Lion, knowing she is thirsty, invites her to come and drink.
“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emporers, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
Lewis put these words in the mouth of Aslan, the Christ figure, as he talks to a scared little girl: “I make no promise.” Concerning what? The Lion makes no promise that Jill will not suffer. He will not promise her the Better Life.
But he does invite her to drink the water she needs.
What do we need? We’ve often answered, this particular set of blessings, safety from more things going wrong. God says, fellowhip with Me, safety to come into My presence.
We’ve changed the terms of the agreement. We’ve wanted the Better Life AND the Better Hope, the blessings of life AND fellowship with God – both, now. If we had to choose one, we might be tempted to choose the blessings. “God, just get my son off drugs. I’ll do whatever You say.”
When the Lion won’t move and when He refuses to guarantee safe passage to the stream of living water, we’ve looked for another stream and figured out how to get there. There is no other, but we’ve pretended there is.
A man diagnosed with inoperable cancer listened to his friend’s reassurance: “Everything will be okay. I just put your situation on the Internet. Before this week is out, more than twenty thousand people will be praying for you.” Drawing close to God is not the chief end; getting healthy is. And lots of prayer is the means; a few prayers won’t do.
That’s Old Way linearity.
The New Way begins with a different promise. Water is available, and you may drink it, but life may be tough as you draw near. The focus of the New Way, however, is not on the trials; it’s on the availability of cool water and rich food.
“Whoever believes in Me… streams of living water will flow from within him.”
That’s New Way linearity. Believe and water flows.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…. Eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”
More New Way linearity. It’s a promise! Come along the path God has opened through Christ into His presence – and you’ll be satisfied!
“Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you.”
That’s the arrangement. It’s a good one. If we hear what He offers, we’ll not want to change a thing.
It’s Monday morning. Rachel and I spent Sunday evening in the emergency room. About six o’clock, a familiar pain hit. Another kidney stone. My first response was, “I have so much to do. Life was finally going pretty well. The timing is awful. God, couldn’t You have kept this from happening? Have I not been praying enough? Or maybe I’ve been griping too much about my insanely full plate.”
The natural response is to travel the Old Way, to tame the Lion (as if we could) and ask Him to lead us to the Pool of Siloam, where life gets better. If I thought twenty thousand prayers would make a difference, I’d spread my plight across the Internet.
Then I hear the Lion say, “I make no promise about your pain. Your stone may pass, it may not. Come to Me and drink.”
The view from an emergency room bed does not inspire faith. It energizes demand. “God, do something.” That poor baby is screaming. The old woman next to me behind the curtain feels terrible. And I’m not doing so hot myself. Where are You? What do I have to do to get You to do something?”
As I lay there last night for several hours, I asked what I could count on God to do. Exactly what had He promised? He said He has put in force an everlasting covenant, and arrangement that, by His choice, binds Him to do what He promised.
Of course, the promise of God is a Person, Jesus Christ. God’s promise is in Him, and He promises to form Christ into us, that we will have God’s own life, the highest life in the universe, inside of us.
The formation of Christ in us cannot take place if we pull the ejection handle as soon as we face any difficulty in life. There is no promise for a quick fix. Sometimes it happens; often it does not. In my own walk with the Lord, I’ve come to see this as a mystery that is beyond my abilities to comprehend or explain. (The Lion does not promise explanations, either, though sometimes He does give them.)
Our reaction to the Lion’s ways, especially when it is not what we asked for or wanted, should tell us quite a bit about what (or Who) we really depend on. This alone may reveal who the real king is in our hearts.
He is not here to give us an easy life, to erase our problems or fix all of our messes. But He is here to give us His life-giving water to carry us through our worst times. Are we willing to drink from the River of Life under these circumstances?
We are dwelling in and we are indwelt by a Lord who cannot be tamed (controlled to do our bidding, to make life look the way we want it to look).
May we press on in total faith and trust in Christ either way.
Follow the Life!
Question for Discussion:
~ What does this story mean to you?