I found out about a tragedy this week. This tragedy affected me. I feel like I need to write about it and be “out there” with it as best I can without letting anyone know what the hell is going on so, here goes…
I don’t know why God allows things to happen the way they do. I trust him sometimes. Other times, I think he messed up which is incredibly ignorant. All I know is that people I care about are hurting. I am hurting. I want the hurt to go away but it won’t. I want the confusion, the “why” to disappear but it doesn’t. I have no idea what to do. I have no idea how to make it better. All I know is that somehow, God will use this horrible experience to continue to refine me. I hate being refined.
Have you ever read the Voyage of the Dawn Treader? The movie is ok but the book, even though it’s written for children, has themes that only adults who have been through some shit would understand. There’s a part in the book where Eustace, a horribly pretentious boy, turns into a dragon. He does this by stealing a gold armlet and putting it on. He becomes on the outside what he was on the inside…greedy, angry, ugly etc. Here’s how he was refined…
"I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn't that kind of fear. I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it -- if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it."
"You mean it spoke?"
"I don't know. Now that you mention it, I don't think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I'd have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last when we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden - trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well. . . .
"Then the lion said -- but I don't know if it spoke -- 'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
"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 peel off. You know -- if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy -- oh but it is such fun to see it coming away."
"I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.
"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off -- just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -- and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me -- I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on -- and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again." [115-116]
This is an amazing passage from one of the best set of books ever written on Christian Theology. I come to tears every time I read it. Being refined hurts. It hurts really, really bad. It’s necessary though for us to become who we are. It’s part of our story. We are the only ones who have lived the life we live and without tragedy or heartache or pain, we wouldn’t be who we are today. We couldn’t be. Our story is what defines us. We don’t get to write it, but we can make decisions that have an impact on the plot.
A friend of mine, Greg Smith, wrote a book called Lost In the Pages, A Characters View on Life. This is another amazing book where this idea is explained in further detail. The bottom line is this; God authors our lives. We are characters in the greatest novel ever written. Our experiences make us who we are…our joy, love, pain, tragedies, everything. Oh how it sucks! It sucks to love and lose. It sucks to have the slightest experience of joy only to have it ripped away from forces beyond your control. It sucks to see people you care about go through pain and suffering for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It’s hellacious, and it’s ok to be angry. We can yell at the Author, beg him to change his mind, plead with him for a rewrite, all of that is perfectly acceptable. But in the end, we need to realize that the he knows the end of the story. We must trust that the Author knows what he’s doing. He’s been writing for quite a while now.