Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 26 – Changing
Setting the Scene: Bree, the proud war horse, has to learn yet another lesson!
‘My good Horse,’ said the Hermit, who had approached them unnoticed because his bare feet made so little noise on that sweet, dewy grass. ‘My good Horse, you’ve lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don’t put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You’re not quite the great Horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn’t follow that you’ll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you’re nobody special, you’ll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another. And now, if you and my other four-footed cousin will come round to the kitchen door we’ll see about the other half of that mash.’
The Horse & His Boy – Chapter 10 – The Hermit of the Southern March (© C.S. Lewis)
Of the two in ‘The Horse and His Boy’ I am far more attracted to the character of Hwin than to Bree. She has grace and gentleness on her side. Bree on the other hand is arrogant, full of over-weaning pride and self-importance and does not quite understand why everyone can’t see things his way. Perhaps one of the reasons why I am not so fond of Bree is that looking at him is just a tad too much like looking in a mirror!
Too many time I find myself railing against fellow Christians because of their arrogance and sense of self-worth? Some seem to arrogate to themselves the whole revelation of God and will not have their views gainsaid by anyone. Others whose sense of call is so strong, whose vision is so clear, that it seems that God’s vocation for those near to them pales into insignificance. People who seem to be… a little like me.
But is this not one of the challenges of listening closely to the call of God? God sets us apart, over which we rejoice, and then calls us to live lives which are ‘nothing special’. The call of God is oh so special and personal. However call without humility is nothing less than hubris.
The thing which makes me like Bree least is his desire for status. In the Franciscan community, of which I am privileged to be a member, one of our Principles has this to say….
The faults we see in others are the subject of prayer rather than of criticism. We take care to cast out the beam from our own eye before offering to remove the speck from another’s. We are ready to accept the lowest place when asked and to volunteer to take it…..
(From ‘The Principles – Third Order of the Society of St Francis)
Bree, like me on a bad day, has a good eye for ‘specks of sawdust’ and has no problem proclaiming himself to be better than everyone around him. Would that each of us would learn, without the hard lessons that Bree had, that we won’t be ‘anyone very special in Narnia’. Our voices should not be heard save in chorus and harmony with others and our deeds should bring only glory to the One who enables their working within us.
This is not a counsel of Quietism though; the Principle goes on to say.
…..Nevertheless, when asked to undertake work of which they feel unworthy or incapable they do not shrink from it on the grounds of humility, but confidently attempt it through the power that is made perfect in weakness.
Each of us who has the joy of serving God needs to discover that all we are really called to be is ordinary and obedient. We must not expect God and others to love us a little bit more because we have been obedient. We are not followers of some kind of ‘Little Jack Horner’ religion.
The words from Luke’s gospel are very apposite.
Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’
When I finally realise that listening, changing and obeying doesn’t make me ‘anyone very special’ then perhaps I have finally struck out on the road to Narnia and the North.
Thank you Bree for showing me, me, and calling me to become the person the One who Loves us Best intends me to become, simply ‘me’.
Suffer us, O Lord, never to think
that we have
knowledge enough to need no teaching.
wisdom enough to need no correction,
talents enough to need no grace,
goodness enough to need no progress,
humility enough to need no repentance,
devotion enough to need no quickening,
strength sufficient without your Spirit;
Lest standing still, we fall back for evermore.
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Praise and encourage someone whose faithfulness does not seem to be as complete as your own.
Talk to someone about their work for God…. without telling them about your own!
Give up a task in your worship, (reading a lesson, leading the prayers and c.) to someone who is not as experienced as yourself.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018