Here’s a story from C.S. Lewis that captured my attention yesterday. In its simplicity, there is a depth of revelation.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“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 me, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, not as if it was sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“They 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, The Silver Chair, 17.)
This story resonates with every fiber of my being. Seeking to know Jesus, there are times and seasons that He orchestrates the narrative of my life so intricately to bring me face to face with Him.
I thirst to drink deeply of His presence leading me to His stream of life. There it is – but there He is, seeming to block my way to the very place He leads me. I can’t get to the stream unless I surrender to a greater, larger, deeper, multifaceted revelation of who He is. Up close at this moment, He is quite different. A lion of power, majesty and might, He stirs fear in me on every level.
Why is that? Have I, all this time, imagined Jesus to be something less than who He really is? Does my paradigm of life create a Jesus that is agreeable to my own limited understanding? I know a kind Jesus, a loving Jesus. Yes, He is all those qualities and more. A lamb that was slain, meek and gentle.
But standing before me is not the lamb, but the lion. It is the lion that stirs this fear in me. A lion that presents Himself in an unwavering stance, immovable.
He is not who I expected.
My heart is laid bare as I must choose to trust and surrender to get to the source of my thirst. Is He withholding from me? Playing some great trick on me?
Here goes my back and forth dialogue with Him.
“Can I trust you to be gentle and kind as I draw near? You won’t hurt me, right?” I ask.
His answer is still the same. “I make no promise.”
What kind of God is this?
I want to go forward but I wait a bit in case He changes His mind and opens up another way for me. That doesn’t happen because there is no way around this in this season.
Have I not said that I wanted to know Him? How did I actually think that would work out? Did I believe that He would bend to the imaginings of my own heart? Did I desire a God fashioned in my own image?
I believe I wanted a lamb but at this moment there is a lion.
It is time to get past myself, my own illusions about Jesus, created in my own mind.
What is my choice standing in this place? I am not backed into a corner forced to make a decision. Forced love is really no love. I am free walk forward or free to turn and run. His love for me remains with either choice.
He created this path for me because I cried out for more. I can’t go back now.
He is not a tame lion. If I did not know His love, I may just run or faint but I will do neither. I will enter this path and face this revelation head on.
I will trust, surrender and obey. There is no other way.