When I was a child, my dad read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis in their entirety to me at least three times. I loved the books and still do. I have now begun to read them to Princess A. They’re a little over her head and I have to stop and explain a lot to her, but she is determined to continue reading them.
I’m not sure what good they’re doing Princess A at this point other than easily reaching our 20 minutes of reading to her a night quota; however, I am getting a great deal out of reading these books again and being reminded of the spiritual lessons C.S. Lewis has included in them. The one that struck me most recently, takes place in Prince Caspian.
Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter along with a dwarf friend are trying to find their way to help out Prince Caspian who is battling his uncle for his rightful place as King of Narnia. The situation is dire, and they are trying to reach him as quickly as possible.
Along the journey, Lucy sees Aslan from a distance, but the others don’t see him and only partially believe her. She is convinced he wants them to follow him, but the rest of her siblings decide to take what looks like a better, easier path, which ultimately leads them straight to an enemy outpost.
After the group turns back, Aslan appears to Lucy again in the middle of the night and insists that she follow him, even if the others refuse to come with her. She comes to the realization that that is what she should have done the first time he appeared. Now that she has come to this realization and is willing to follow, she is also given the difficult task of waking up her older siblings in the middle of the night and trying to convince them to follow, too, even though they can’t see Aslan at the moment.
“It is a terrible thing to have to wake four people, all older than yourself and all very tired, for the purpose of telling them something they probably won’t believe and making them do something they certainly won’t like.”
Aslan acknowledges to Lucy that it will be hard for her, but then when she buries her face in his mane, she is given the strength to do what he has asked her to do. I love this picture. I don’t even need to explain it. Follow Him – even if no one else comes with you.
The question then must be asked, where are we to follow Him? To answer that, I will ask another question. Where did Jesus go? To whom did He minister? If the following is hard, the destination is probably harder. We all know the answer, we’ve just glossed over it and spent so much time and energy justifying our wealth and way of life that we don’t want to really think too hard about it.
You should know that I have also been reading Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity by Jen Hatmaker. I only recommend reading this book if you are actually ready for Jesus to wreck your comfortable Christianity. Where did Jesus go? To the least and the lowest and the outcasts of society. That’s who He hung out with, that’s who He ministered to, and that’s where He wants to lead us.
Matthew 25:31-46 is the famous passage where Jesus talks about separating the sheep from the goats. “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. I needed clothes and you did not clothe me. I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
I encourage you to read the entire passage with a fresh set of eyes. Lucy eyes. Then read everything else Jesus says in the four Gospels and see that He is continuously making this point over and over again in different ways.
This is real people, and I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain it doesn’t mean that it’s ok for us to sit in our 6-figure homes collecting things and then come out twice a year to throw a little money at some poor people. Or just donate all our cast-off clothing that we were never going to wear again anyway. Just to let you know, I am totally preaching to myself because that’s me.
I was mulling these things over today in the car while driving (which was probably not the best choice, but when you have small children, in the car by yourself is your only think time). I was suddenly struck with a memory from the past that took on a whole new dimension and I saw it for what it was: a missed opportunity.
Upon the arrival of our first child, Princess A, the hospital where we gave birth had a couple of significantly larger recovery suites available for an extra $75 on a first-come first-served basis. As soon as possible after the baby was born, I sent my husband down with his wallet to snag one of the coveted rooms. We got one. It was nice – especially compared to the closets that masqueraded as regular rooms.
Shortly after moving into our new room, an interesting situation occurred.
Moving into the other suite right next to mine, was another new mom. Only she had not paid for that room. She was given it, to make room for the 2 – 4 person security detail accompanying her. She was a prisoner. My family and I monitored the situation with interest, and slight annoyance at the sometimes bored and loud-talking security persons who were required to sit outside her room 24/7. The nurses were clearly on edge about the whole thing, and worried about how offensive this must be to the other moms.
Then something happened that tugged at my heart. I saw this woman, who had delivered via cesarean, walking down the hall with a pillow pressed to her stomach, pushing one of the plastic rolling bins hospitals like to call bassinets with her baby in it. She had two security officers following her, and silent tears streaming down her face.
At that moment I saw her through the eyes of Jesus. She was broken and hurting. In just a few short days, she would be taken back to her jail cell, and her baby would be taken from her and placed in foster care. I don’t know what she did to land herself in jail. It doesn’t really matter. While I can applaud myself all day long for having compassion and seeing this woman through the eyes of Jesus, I don’t deserve the applause. Why? Because I did nothing about it. It did not even occur to me to do anything about it. That, folks, is sad and embarrassing.
What could I have done? I could have prayed for her to begin with. I don’t think I even did that. I could have asked permission to talk to her, but more importantly listen to her if she was willing to talk, and encourage her mom to mom. I could have shared the love of Jesus with her by letting her know someone cared.
It is entirely possible and even likely that I would not have been allowed to even approach her, or that she would not have wanted anything to do with me. It doesn’t matter, though, because I didn’t even try. Don’t try to tell me not to be so hard on myself. Yes, I had just had my first baby and was in some pain and trying to figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. I guarantee you that woman was in way more pain that I can even imagine.
How many other opportunities have passed us by that we didn’t even recognize? I have been slapped in the face with my own apathy. My new daily prayer is that another situation like that will not occur without compassion moving me to action of some sort. Follow is an action word. It’s time I started doing it. Will you join me in this prayer?
Thanks for reading. Melanie.