By Debbie Lee
“Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he…quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
This is a scene from the book, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. When I read this conversation between Susan and Mr Beaver, I often think of the Holy Spirit. Like Susan, I think a lot of us are afraid of Aslan, or the Holy Spirit is the way I’d like to interpret it. God the Father and Jesus Christ, his son, have human likeness about them which are easily identifiable and understandable to us. Regardless of what kind of father or friend we’ve encountered at least we have an image of what one is or could be. But spirit? What is spirit? In Western society today, we’ve all but wiped out the spiritual from our consciousness. If it is not tangible, scientific, rationally understandable, it cannot be real; it must be a hoax, a stretch of the imagination. However, to the Global South, and more importantly, according to the Word of God, the spiritual world is quite real and I think that this perturbs the normalcy of our “enlightened” minds. When we encounter Jesus, we leave our understanding of normal behind and he introduces to us a new normal in Him. Part of this new normal is His gift of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus’ disciples lamented that Jesus would have to leave, Jesus exclaimed that he must in order for us to receive something better! The Spirit of God is a tremendous gift for every believer!
What makes us hesitate in receiving this incredible gift, though? What about his goodness makes us feel unsafe? I think it is for the same reason the Israelites sought to make a golden calf when Moses went away for a measly 40 days. When Moses left the Israelites to go receive the Ten Commandments, essentially, the Israelites’ intermediary to God left, leaving a vacancy for their own interpretation of who God is. What the Israelites did next was very telling of human nature. In the absence of a personal understanding and relationship with God, we desire to make a god in our own image. Like the Israelites, we desire something concrete, something that can be manipulated to our heart’s desires, something that we would rather worship than love. There is a certain security in being left to our own devices, so long as we give the proper homage to our gods. Our heart’s desires are predictable, the outcome somewhat controllable. It is a mirage of safety but we cling to it because at least we can see it. What Jesus offers through the Holy Spirit, though, is something so much more dynamic. Like any relationship you enjoy being in, there is an element of surprise simply because a person’s choice/response/thoughts create multiple variations of continued choices/response/thoughts. There is much to be discovered in a relationship that is active and alive.
This is what the Holy Spirit does. The Word of God is not just a collection of stagnant words; it is a book made living by the Spirit. The Spirit is our access point to a relationship with a God who is visible only to the eyes of our heart. He makes alive who Jesus is; he stirs our hearts to yearn for Him, creates a longing to do as the Word says. He is the one who pierces our conscience to remind us of that which wounds God’s heart; he is the one who fills our spirit with laughter as He makes known the Father’s pleasure over our smallest victories. He is the one who strengthens us to believe God when we are stretched beyond our comfort zone, when we cannot grasp understanding with our minds, when we are challenged to leave for the unknown.
I don’t think we are asked to abandon safety as a value. Rather, I think the Holy Spirit teaches us to find safety within God’s goodness. It is not either/or. It is to change our heart’s source of safety. We don’t find safety and rest in stability, controlled variables, accurate predictions of the future; no, we find safety and rest in the character and nature of a God who IS love and from his love flows the rivers of blessing and goodness towards us, his children. So we learn to grow in trusting this goodness. As we learn to trust His goodness, the Spirit’s wildness becomes an adventure. His wildness becomes an invitation to strip us of our “respectful” facades. It is an invitation to allow the King to do anything and everything he wishes, casting aside our dignity and putting on the robe of humility before him. The Spirit’s wildness is an invitation to a reeducate our vision, to see more accurately what God is pleased with, and what it actually means to be blessed. Following Jesus is not for the weak of heart. Ironically, Jesus’ prescription for courage is to hold hands with the Spirit of God, for he is the one who gives us the strength to keep following Jesus. To have an actual relationship with God there’s no avoiding Holy Spirit. So perhaps it might be time to embrace the coursing flow of a river instead of finding satisfaction within your reflection found in a muddy puddle.