“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just plain silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
We live in a safety-obsessed society. The mom in me appreciates and embraces this: helmets, which we never had as kids; seat belts, which we never wore; the “may contain nuts” label on food packages because people these days seem to be more allergic than 30 years ago; it’s great. Parents naturally want to protect their children. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve shouted “Be careful! Don’t get hurt!” as they play… I’d be rich. Safety is necessary. Kids need to know that running with pointed scissors isn’t a good idea. They have to understand that chasing the ball into the street is dangerous. But what if this is all we teach them? What if this is all we ourselves have to hold on to? If the only thing we desire is to avoid risk at any cost?
I come back to this passage in the Chronicles of Narnia often. God is Holy. He is wild. The Lion of Judah isn’t a puppy. We wouldn’t want Him to be. He is fierce, protective, and powerful. A life submitted to Christ doesn’t guarantee a life in a plastic bubble free from harm. What it does guarantee is that the fears of this world cannot hold power over us. We want quick, effective formulas. I see Bible studies all the time that emphasize this. We are comforted by 3 step or 30 day formulas. What if the breakthrough God has for us comes in 2 days? What if it requires more than three easy steps? We want to understand the mystery, but are too afraid to let God really touch our deepest wounds or insecurities. It’s like wanting to go camping without the bugs. Or cook an amazing meal without messing up the kitchen. Or travel to a foreign country only to run to the nearest McDonalds. I asked myself: what if all this preoccupation with safety and comfort is causing me to miss the really good stuff that God has for me?
One of the great things about walking with Christ is that He invites us to go on the adventure. We are free to choose. If we decline, we may be safe for a time. If we go with Him, there will be risk. Until Aslan returned to Narnia, they were living in a perpetual winter under the White Witch. Winter, minus Christmas of course. In the final book, the children have traveled deeper and higher into Aslan’s country, farther than they ever imagined they would go. Afraid of being sent back, they are worried. Aslan reassures them they are home and that “the holidays have begun.” He brought life back and he led them through to where they needed to be. It was anything but safe, but it was definitely good.
We can stay put in our ‘safe’ places and endure the long winter. Or, we can choose to go out with Christ into the imperfect, messy world and see just what He has in store for us. The decision to go with Jesus means we are going into some wild and risky places. God wants to get us out there but He wants us out there with Him. He loves us too much to let us slumber in our safe places, numb to the rest of the story. There may be a mountain. There probably won’t be an escalator up it. I’m learning to say ‘oh well’ and go anyway. There will be dirt and bugs and rocks in our way. I’m learning to deal with it because it is so much better to be out in the wild with God than to be safe in my self-made shelter alone with my 3-step book!