No.238. Thanksgiving and the unexpected continued.

Colours of the Rainbow > Thanksgiving > No.238. Thanksgiving and the unexpected continued.

In the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, that magnificent book for adults that children enjoy too, the encounter the four children have with Mr and Mrs Beaver in the beaver’s house is beautiful. It also contains some wonderful truth. C S Lewis had a marvelous way of describing profound things about the Lord, and His ways with us, through allegory. The children are asking the Beavers about Aslan (who is a picture of Jesus). They have never met or heard of Him before and have just been told that He is a lion, a great lion. “Is He safe?” asks Susan. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Much later on towards the end of the story Aslan quietly leaves as they celebrate their coronation as Kings and Queens of Narnia and they remember Mr Beaver’s words: “ …….. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

Yesterday we reflected on how easy it is to have fixed expectations of events, things, other people and what God is or will be doing. And we saw how this can cause us to focus on what isn’t happening, what doesn’t seem good about a situation, how someone isn’t living up to our expectations or what it seems God isn’t doing. Any or all of these can have significantly negative effects on us, our personal growth, our relationships and our faith in God. Thanksgiving, however, is powerful in helping us to break out of these rigid ideas, expectations and consequent perplexities, and see what God is doing, see the good and progress in others, and see what good is being worked in a situation for us and others.

I would like to recommend that we take a long, deep drink of C S Lewis’s revelation that although Jesus may appear to be neither safe nor tame yet He is good. Maybe in the relatively comfortable west we have allowed ourselves to be confused about the word ‘safe’. Undoubtedly the Lord is our sure place of safety. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and is safe” Proverbs 18:10. However if by safe we have slipped into thinking ‘predictable’, or ‘doing it my way’, or ‘doing it the way it has always been done in the church’, or even ’doing it the way I have been taught to expect it’, we are likely to be in for surprises and perhaps perplexity, because the Lord is not, in that sense, ‘a tame lion’, or a tame Lord.

This happened quite a lot around Jesus. Expectations kept getting busted. Loosely put it might go something like this:-

~ John the Baptist ‘I expected you to get me out of prison as per Luke 4:18 & 7:18on; but you haven’t’ (and He didn’t).

~ Peter ‘There is revival in town, everyone wants to hear you. Stay and have many meetings and reap a great harvest’. Jesus ‘No I must move on.’ Mark 1:32-38

~ Jesus brother’s ‘You are the Messiah, go up to the city and make yourself fully known – you need publicity.’ (That is have adverts, appear on the TV, big campaign so everyone knows the Messiah is here) Jesus ‘no – not yet’. John 7:3-6

~ Peter ‘Very big spiritual event here on Mount of transfiguration – must build a suitable monument to commemorate/attract people.’ Father God ‘(No) Just listen to my Son’. Mark 9: 5-7.

~ Peter “God forbid it Lord! This shall never happen to you.” (‘Surely the promised Messiah can’t be going to die, that’s not right’) Jesus ‘You don’t understand God’s plan and ways Peter, your thoughts/expectations are in the wrong direction.’ Matthew 16:21-23.

~ People in Nazareth ‘Great miracles, great wisdom, but hang on he grew up here, we know him and His family.’ Expectations hit by offence = unbelief and little blessing. Mark 6:2-6.

~ Disciples (After the resurrection) Will you now restore the kingdom to Israel (and get rid of the Romans)?’ Jesus, (Not the right expectation boys!) ‘ Stay in Jerusalem and await the Holy Spirit coming upon you when you will receive power and be my witnesses’ They expected  a major external event to change life mightily. God had planned a major personal event for them all, to change their lives enormously which would then flow outwards and change others. Acts 1:6-8.

How does thanksgiving greatly help us here. First and foremost thanksgiving needs to focus, munch, chew the cud on, and stay with the absolute truth that God is good, and God is love. Let’s be like the cows and sheep in the field eating all day, thanksgiving is a great way to feed, and chew the cud. As I chew, turning it over and over, whether its rain or sunshine in my life, I am settled in thanksgiving on the reality of His goodness and love. Then the perplexities of unfulfilled expectations have a safe context. Its only ok that Aslan is not safe and not tame because He is love and goodness.

Some of us find flexibility easier than others. But all of us carry quite a few expectations of how things should be. The more we take long, long drinks of His goodness and love – best done in pint glasses of thanksgiving – the easier it will be to see His hand and ways in the unexpected, the disappointments and the perplexities. And the more my faith will grow, and I will see what He is doing in my life and the lives of the people around me


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