At this present moment in time I am sitting in Bristol airport, truly hoping my flight home will not be delayed due to the epic storm that has been hitting the South of England for the last 12 hours. (I have some really, really important meetings this week, so although I can be mobile today… I hate to say that I really have to get back to Inverness today!) As I lay in bed last night listening to the crazy winds crashing some pretty hefty local trees to the ground, I was actually filled with a really deep peace about more than just the storm outside. Because I couldn't help but think about the way Jesus once slept in a boat as a storm raged, knowing that His Father had told Him they would reach the other side.
There's a peace that comes to my heart when I remember He's in control. And His ways are best. Always.
Ok, now I warned you I might be pulling a Narnia-inspired blog out the bag at some point… And today…is the day!
In the Narnia books, there's this one scene that I love (there are many actually, but this is on my mind today… Humour me! ;)). It's in the slightly lesser-known-book 'Prince Caspian' and it's set when the four returning-children-come-kings-and-queens are trying to find their way to the aid of the good army who have summoned them. They are lost and confused and disgruntled, and they have already ignored Lucy's first claims to have seen Aslan. The others cannot yet see Him and following their own whims has lost them time and done them only harm.
And into this context, Lucy awakens in the middle of the night and hears someone call her name. It is Aslan, and as she runs to Him, this conversation emerges. And this conversation is my challenge today.
“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at one and follow me – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”
“Do you mean that it what you want me to do?” gasped Lucy.
“Yes, little one,” said Aslan.
“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.
“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”
“But they won't believe me!” said Lucy.
“It doesn't matter,” said Aslan.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” said Lucy. “And I was so pleased at finding you again. And I thought you'd let me stay. And I thought you'd come roaring in and frighten all the enemies away – like last time. And now everything is going to be horrid.”
“It is hard for you, little one,” said Aslan. “But things never happen the same way twice. It has been hard for us all in Narnia before now.”
Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face. But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her. Quite suddenly she sat up. “I'm sorry Aslan,” she said. “I'm ready now.”
“Now you are a lioness,” said Aslan. “And now all Narnia will be renewed. But come. We have no time to lose.”
This conversation is a challenge, because it mirrors some of my own with God over the last couple of weeks.
Seriously. It really does.
The fear of people rejecting you, or not believing you or thinking you're mad. The way that irrational fear can overcome the joy of being with God, and knowing you're in His will and held close to His heart.
Sounds crazy on paper doesn't it? But yet, it's so often true.
Because if you're like me, (and a little like Lucy), you can so easily presume that Jesus is going to ride in and save the day in all His strength, and let everyone know that He is God and that you saw Him all along… And sometimes He does.
But sometimes He asks you to go back and just follow. Even when no one else can see. And He says that it's not about your reputation, it's about your obedience. And He says it'll be hard, but that He'll be with you. But yet still you doubt. Until you take the time to hide yourself in His Presence and His embrace and be filled with the unshakeable strength and the all supassing peace that only He can give.
And then, and only then, can you walk in what He has promised.
And with that in mind…. Today, I accepted the job in Sapporo.
I will write more about what and why and how completely excited and full of vision and joy for this place I am over the next few days, but for now, I will just say that God is so good and I know that I know that I know I'm ready now.
I've spent some time breathing in the fragrance of the King, and I'm ready now.
Sometimes it feels like I'm following in the footsteps of an invisible-to-everyone-but-me-Lion-King, but I know this is the walk of obedience. And if He has called then He will provide and He will equip.
In fact, He already has.
A really beautiful and inspirational friend, who I don't know half as well enough as I would like to, sent me a link to her church's sermon today. She said I had been on her mind in the service yesterday, and that she'd been praying for me. And this sermon was such a timely message for me to hear. It was on the book of Ezra, but the focus was on building, despite obstacles. The pastor drew real attention to the ways in which the Jews had stopped building under opposition, and then saw their dreams and the foundations they had laid so carefully and invested into as nothing but ruins. But (such a wonderful 'but'), God is the God of rebuilding the temple, and renewing our dreams and of establishing the place of praise. He doesn't see our cracked, lifeless foundations, He sees the establishment of His kingdom, and the living stones built and crafted in obedience.
He sees that all Narnia will be renewed.
So for me, today is a day of seeing rainbows in the clouds and the sun through the rain. Today is a day of joy. And of peace. And of knowing that this journey He has me on is a whole-lot-of-adventure.
It really is.