Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 6 – Call
Setting the Scene: Wanting to help Jill Pole escape the bullies at school, Eustace and her talk about how they could get to Narnia.
‘Do you mean, do something to make it happen?’
‘You mean we might draw a circle on the ground – and write in queer letters in it – and stand inside it – and recite charms and spells?’
‘Well,’ said Eustace after he had thought hard for a bit. ‘I believe that was the sort of thing I was thinking of, though I never did it. But now that it comes to the point, I’ve an idea that all those circles and things are rather rot. I don’t think he’d like them. It would look as if we thought we could make him do things. But really, we can only ask him.’
The Silver Chair – Chapter One – Behind the Gym (© C.S. Lewis)
Setting the Scene: At the end of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the Pevensie’s learn the most important lesson about Aslan.
But amidst all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn’t there they said nothing about it. For Mr Beaver had warned them, ‘He’ll be coming and going,’ he had said. ‘One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild,’ you know. Not like a tame lion.’
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – Chapter Seventeen – The Hunting of the White Stag (© C.S. Lewis)
Sometimes, when I am most desperate, I do wish God would behave and, for once, do exactly as I ask!
Life would be so much simpler if there was some kind of divine ‘call centre’ to which we could make requests – perhaps even demands – which would be instantly, effortlessly and politely answered and so ease the whole passage of our day.
It continues to amaze me how many of my non-religious friends seem to think this is exactly how things do work with God. After all what’s the use of a God who is not there to run to your aid when you need help? Why can’t God guarantee good weather for a wedding, a parking space near to the shop, and an occasional win for Ipswich Town Football Club?
But there are deeper questions as well. Why does God permit suffering? If God made the world why are there natural disasters – unhelpfully called ‘Acts of God’ by insurance companies? If God really is God then surely God should be on our side and ‘bad things should never happen to good people’?
This seems so simple an argument doesn’t it? But it conveniently forgets that the purpose of any creation is to do the will of the Creator. It is not the task of the Creator to go running around serving an errant creation – though, wonderfully our God does precisely that on the Cross.
When we demand things of God we end up making God in our own image and feel justified in complaining when God does not come when we call; be it through ’queer letters and charms and spells’ or through any other kind of religious ritual. God, like Aslan, is definitely not an ‘ordinary lion’.
This does not mean we cannot ask things of God, even Eustace knows that he can ask Aslan to help his bullied friend Jill, but it does mean that we have to learn the art of waiting. This is sometimes called faith. A concept unfamiliar to my non-religious friends who complain about unseasonal weather, the fortunes of Ipswich Town FC and the more distressing worldwide events such as famine and flood, earthquake and tsunami.
How do we live life with this God who will not run to our call but only calls us to do His bidding? This is the paradox of Christian service and the freedom it brings to us. St Augustine discovered part of the truth when he counselled ‘Love God and do as you will’ realizing that the true love of God would lead to us only wanting to do God’s will. It was the same Augustine who reminded us that ‘In His service we find perfect freedom’.
So how will we use the freedom Christ has won for us this Lent? Will we be people who demand that God do our bidding or instead become willing servants who run to do God’s will?
Lord, take as your right, and receive as my gift,
all my freedom, my memory,
my understanding and my will.
Whatever I am and whatever I possess, you have given to me:
I restore it all to you again,
to be at your disposal,
according to your will.
Give me only a love for you,
and the gift of your grace;
then I am rich enough,
and ask for nothing more,
Ignatius of Loyola
In ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Think of the way in which you make your prayers? Are they aimed at twisting God’s arm or at bending your will to God’s ways?
Make a prayer of offering of your will (perhaps using the one above) considering which parts of your life remain firmly glued to your own ways of doing things.
If you have anything in your life which tries to summon God or predict the future – horoscopes, lucky charms, superstitious practices – this Lent may be a good time to put them away.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018