|Eustace as seen in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" movie.|
I have just started trying to finish the Narnia series of books by CS Lewis. I have really enjoyed the ones I have read, but for some reason I have never seemed to be able to complete the whole series. This time, however, I am trying to read them with the worldview that Lewis wrote them from to see the deeper meanings behind the stories that are told.
Right now I am in the middle of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In it there is a horrible, nasty boy named Eustace who is close-minded, cynical, narcissistic and arrogant. It is only by accident that he ends up in Narnia, but it does not change him at first. Despite the magic, wonder and newness of everything around him, he continues to be a brat who believes he should be the first and most important consideration in any situation.
Needless to say, I'm not really a fan of Eustace, or at least I wasn't.
Trapped on an island after a hurricane leaves their ship in terrible shape, Eustace sneaks off by himself in a fit. He ends up lost, only to see a dragon die apparently from old age. Now the boy, being a close-minded realist, did not even know what a dragon was. He simply saw it as a frightening beast. Upon entering the dragon's lair, however, he discovers its horde of treasure. Being a selfish person, he put on a bracelet and stuffs his pockets full of jewels and treasure before falling asleep.
When he wakes up there is a great pain on his arm where the bracelet was, and he discovers to his horror that he has become a dragon himself. He ends up finding the crew of the ship, who discovers his true identity. This is where his change begins.
Before, Eustace had been a beast on the inside but a person on the outside. He had lied, cheated, tried to steal and been terrible to everyone he met. He hated everything. Now that who he was outside matched who he was inside, he saw the true horror of the situation. It was at this point that who he was inside began to change.
You see, his companions did not leave him, fight him or try to run him off. They did not say good riddance or ignore his plight. Instead they looked for how they might be able to help him. Having experienced that kind of love and care as a beast, inside he changed to become helpful, kind, humble. He lost his selfishness and became a beneficial member of the group.
But there was still the problem of being a dragon.
As the rest of the crew tries to figure out how to continue their journey with Eustace's new shape (Do they tow him? Can they make room on the boat?), the boy dragon wanders off, only to find Aslan. In this meeting Aslan leads Eustace to a well, where he tells the boy the water will ease his pain. All he has to do is undress first.
Now, being a dragon, he had no clothes. But upon realizing that he is much like a snake, he begins to shed his skin. After doing this three times, each feeling better than the last, Aslan tells him that he needed to do it. Afraid, but desperate, Eustace lies down and allows the lion to do what must be done.
Eustace recalls the moment by saying, "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peeled off."
Once it was done, however, Eustace was a boy again. The constricting and painful experience of being a dragon was gone, the arm ring could come off, and he could live again. He had been changed from a beast on both the inside and out to a person inside and out.
But it did not come without pain and submission. He could have fled from Aslan, could have gone off to try and fix it himself, but the problem would have remained. It was only when he allowed the Lion to do what had to be done that he could finally become his true self.
Often I feel that we are the same way. We want (or believe) that our way is best. That if we can only have the time to take care of it ourselves, we will find a way. But the truth is that we cannot. It takes Someone more, Someone greater than ourselves to tear us out of our beastliness and make us real. It requires acknowledging that we cannot do it ourselves, and submitting to the process that must take place. Often, it will take a great amount of pain as well as we are ripped and pulled away from the things which have attached themselves to us, and what we have attached ourselves to.
So today is a call to submit and give in to the Lion. To allow Him to take His claw, and tear into you so that you can be free from the constriction and pain that sin has placed you in. It is not death or pain that He desires of you, but life and freedom and change. I will not lie and say it will be easy or simple or pain-free. As I have said above it is quite the opposite. But it is worth it. To be free from the penalty of sin, to be changed from a beast into a son of God, to be given a new lease by the only one who can give it.
Regardless of what is going on in your life or how difficult and scary things may be, I encourage you to lie in submission to He who saves, and make you new again. To take your fears and anxieties and redeem them for His purposes. Not that there will never be pain or fear or anxiety in the future, but so that you can know He is working to take those things and redeem them for something better and greater and pure.
Doesn't that sound better than trying to do it all yourself?