So, I’ll start back with Lucy, our youngest Narnian heroine. The others had their victories. Peter, in particular, learned a powerful lesson in the essence of manly wisdom: humility. Susan had a brief May-December romance with a man 1/1300 years her age (smile). Edmund, no longer the self-indulgent, self-absorbed brat we met in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, was my personal favorite. But Lucy’s struggle was unique to me in that she fought from a very different place. It is common to think—that when we are believers, especially strong believers, that we somehow escape trouble. We walk on a higher plain, a sweeter place, with the Almighty. But, our eyes have not seen, nor have our ears heard, nor has it even entered into our hearts all that God has in store for us, and a part of that, at least while here on this earth, is pruning. The branches in our lives that are unfruitful are pruned, and boy, do we appreciate it. But then, the branches that are fruitful are pruned in order to be even more fruitful—bummer. We are tested because of our productivity in Christ, not because of a lack thereof.
This was Lucy’s plight. Peter had given up on Aslan when he didn’t appear on Peter’s schedule. Susan’s and Edmund’s light had dimmed, like so many of us when we quit reading the Bible as regularly, or stop going to church for a while when work presses us, etc. They were still shown grace and experienced some level of victory. We, even when our prayers aren’t that fervent, even when we try to operate out of our own strength, experience some level of victory. But Lucy was different. She believed when others had stopped. She longed for intimacy with Aslan when others had moved on. Again, it is no different with us. There are people who don’t want an intimate relationship with Christ; they’d rather have different dramas (smile). There are those whose walk with Christ will endure a short trial, but a lengthy wait to see God would crush them. Others would stick with God for a while, but get distracted by other gods (horoscopes, psychics, compulsive shopping) in the effort to placate themselves temporarily until they feel that God shows up. Those closest to us sometimes are our biggest stumbling blocks. Remember, it was Job’s wife who told him to ‘curse God and die.’ They will not have our stories, but they will also not share our glories.
So, our task as mature Christians is to embrace the rain, even when it falls upon us unjustly. We don’t need to envy anyone, or to feel as if we somehow brought a trial on ourselves. Yes, I’ve had friends like Job’s friends, too, and thank God that we’ve all grown up in some things. Our walk with God isn’t about justice; it’s about grace. And His love isn’t dealt out to us based on what we deserve; it surrounds us because of unmerited favor. We need to embrace those wonderful 5 words, ‘and it came to pass,’ and then we should pray. What to pray for? Wisdom about how and when to move, and what specifically to do. Discernment about who to share our trials with (people who can pray and encourage without envy or malice), and who we need to delicately prune away. Strength, that we not go about looking like something the cat dragged in, as we are told that the pity of others will be the only reward we see.
May God find us faithful in the sunshine and in the rain.