Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 23 – Changing
Setting the Scene: At the foundation of Narnia Digory owns up to Aslan that he was tempted to follow Jadis of Charn in eating the forbidden fruit. But then worries about what will happen to his mother if she were to eat one of the same apples.
‘Oh – Aslan, sir,’ said Digory, turning red, ‘I forgot to tell you. The Witch has already eaten one of those apples, one of the same kind that Tree grew from.’ He hadn’t really said all he was thinking, but Polly at once said it for him (Digory was always much more afraid than she of looking a fool.)
‘So we thought, Aslan,’ she said, ‘that there must be some mistake, and she can’t really mind the smell of those apples.’
‘Why do you think that, Daughter of Eve?’ asked the Lion. ‘
‘Well, she ate one.’
‘Child,’ he replied, ‘that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after.’
‘Oh I see,’ said Polly. ‘And I suppose because she took it in the wrong way it won’t work for her. I mean it won’t make her always young and all that?’
‘Alas,’ said Aslan, shaking his head. ‘It will. Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart’s desire; she has un-wearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it.’
‘I – I nearly ate one myself, Aslan,’ said Digory. ‘Would I -’
‘You would, child,’ said Aslan. ‘For the fruit always works – it must work – but it does not work happily for any who pluck it at their own will. If any Narnian, unbidden, had stolen an apple and planted it here to protect Narnia, it would have protected Narnia. But it would have done so by making Narnia into another strong and cruel empire like Charn, not the kindly land I mean it to be. And the Witch tempted you to do another thing, my son, did she not?’
‘Yes, Aslan. She wanted me to take an apple home to Mother.’
‘Understand, then, that it would have healed her; but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness.’
And Digory could say nothing, for tears choked him and he gave up all hopes of saving his Mother’s life; but at the same time he knew that the Lion knew what would have happened, and that there might be things more terrible even than losing someone you love by death. But now Aslan was speaking again, almost in a whisper:
‘That is what would have happened, child, with a stolen apple. It is not what will happen now. What I give you now will bring joy. It will not, in your world, give endless life, but it will heal. Go. Pluck her an apple from the Tree.’
For a second Digory could hardly understand. It was as if the whole world had turned inside out and upside down. And then, like someone in a dream, he was walking across to the Tree, and the King and Queen were cheering him and all the creatures were cheering too. He plucked the apple and put it in his pocket. Then he came back to Aslan.
‘Please,’ he said, ‘may we go home now?’ He had forgotten to say ‘Thank you’, but he meant it, and Aslan understood.
The Magician’s Nephew – Chapter 14 – The Planting of the Tree (© C.S. Lewis)
Change is hard work. In Digory’s struggle there is all the personal angst of which the Apostle Paul speaks at the end of Romans Chapter 7 (wanting to do the best we can but succumbing to the ‘flesh’), complicated by the pure motives of wanting to restore his mother’s health.
If Paul thought he was a ‘wretched man’ he was only beginning to look into the dilemma faced by Digory! Having turned down for himself the opportunity of eternal youth (or so it seemed) by refusing the apple he also has, by the very nature of forbidden fruit, to pass up any hope he has for healing for his mother.
Then Aslan intervenes and turns temptation into permission and despair into joy.
In our journey with God it is often moments of ‘permission’, times of grace if you will, which turn temptation into fruitfulness and our anxieties into the fulfilment of God’s purpose for us. I long to be transformed into the person God means me to be but, because I am so eager to do just that, I end up blundering into things I shouldn’t be involved in. Good deeds? Maybe. God’s timing? Mostly not!
When that happens the work which I had thought would bring freedom and healing leaves a bitter taste and I, together with those who I hoped to serve, am devastated instead of fulfilled. Would that I had Digory’s sensibility and know when I am beat? Yes, it means waiting and perhaps some crying, but it also means that in the end I will find God’s moment, the time when he calls me to ‘pick the apple’.
When I wait, when I change, then I learn that part of God’s call is not just the deed but the timing of the deed as well. Then the whole world cheers and I get the opportunity to finally go home.
God, give us grace
To accept with serenity
The things which cannot be changed
Courage to change the things
Which should be changed
And the wisdom to
Distinguish the one from the other.
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Say ‘thank you’ for any temptation you have been able to resist
In listening to the voice of God listen twice; once for the task and the second time for the correct timing.
Ponder how much patience and personal change is needed to live out these scripture verses.
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
© Andrew Dotchin 2018