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May I Kill It?

C.S. Lewis had a wonderful gift of using allegory and metaphor in his powerful gospel-centered writings.  I just finished reading “The Great Divorce” and my wife and I have talked about several passages along the way as I’ve come to them.  Mandi even relayed one of the stories – the one below – in a discipling/counseling session last night with a friend.  I pray that it speaks to you as you read it and that God might use it in your own life.

58079111_eab37a1e49Before you read, let me give you some background.

“The Great Divorce” is a story about a group of “ghosts” from purgatory or hell who take a bus trip to the foothills of heaven where they meet the “spirits” of saints that have gone before them who urge them to journey upward to the mountains of Heaven.  The ghosts are all self-centered, fragile, “unsubstantial” creatures, and the spirits are all large, solid, unselfish, happy people.  What follows is a powerful scene where our narrator, a ghost, observes an awesome encounter between another ghost and an angel…..


I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. “Shut up, I tell you!” he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.

“Off so soon?” said a voice.

The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

“Yes. I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see.  I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard), “that he’d have to be quiet if he came – which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realize that. But he won’t stop.  I shall just have to go home.”

“Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit – an angel, as I now understood.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh! Ah! Look out! You’re burning me! Keep away,” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard.

“Shall I kill it?”

“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here-well, it’s so damned embarrassing.”

“May I kill it?”

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later.”

“There is no time. May I kill it?”

“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please-really-don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.”

“The gradual process is of no use at all.”

“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day. All days are present now.”

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”

“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”

“Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by tonight’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.”

“This moment contains all moments.”

“Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me to pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me-before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.”

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams-all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent____”

“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.

“I know it will kill me.”

“It won’t. But supposing it did?”

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

“Then I may?”

“Damn and blast you! Go on can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,” bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed, on the turf.

“Ow! That’s done for me,” gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.

For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialized while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man-an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinnying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.

The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse’s back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I well knew what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.


Ah, the wonderful mercy of God.  We try to hold on to our pet sins.  We try to justify our actions by believing the lies whispered in our ear.  Meanwhile God is patiently waiting and speaking softly, yet boldly.  ”Shall I kill it?” He says to us.  And we will not move any further up the mountains in our walk with Christ until our answer is “Yes”.

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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Personal

 

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Wishing for Another World

HarryPotter_Dorothy_Narnia_PeterPan_and_Me

A few days ago I asked my Facebook friends to name books or movies in which the main characters travel, by any means, to another world.  And they did not dissapoint!!  The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Harry Potter, The Neverending Story, just to name a few!  Some of the most popular works of all time!  Technically speaking, I was only asking different worlds – alternate universes – but if you expand the list to include time travel in this world, the list grows even longer (see full list below).  I mean, how else could we get Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on there?!

It’s fascinating to me that so many popular books and movies focus on this theme. The creator of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, once said,

“I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy;
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

And the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that God “has put eternity into man’s heart.”  We were created with this longing that can only be satisfied by spending eternity in heaven with our Abba Father!  It’s in our very DNA (even if we don’t realize it) and it leaks out all over the place.  We were created for eternity, and bound by time… for now.

I sincerely believe ‘other-worldly travel’ is such a common theme in books and movies because writers and directors all experience this longing deep down inside.  It fills their dreams and fires their imagination.  Consequently, their created works become so popular because they strike a chord with every reader and every viewer.  We’re entertained by the thoughts of another world, because it reminds us in some small way that we were created for more than this.  There’s another world on the other side of death.  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” -1 Corinthians 13:12

Just something I’ve been thinking about…  By the way, did you realize that every human being will live for eternity?  That’s right.  Gandalf was correct when he said, “Death is just another journey. One that we all must take.”  There is life after death in another place, but the choices we make here on earth will determine which place that will be – Heaven or Hell.  If you haven’t already, place your faith in Jesus Christ.  He is the only way you can get to heaven when you walk through the wardrobe of death.  Before you read any of the other books listed here, pick up a Bible and read the book of John.  It’s a great place to start.


Here’s the full list from my Facebook friends:

Disclaimer: I’m not familiar with everything listed (not even half), so I can’t be sure that all of these works fall under our theme of other-worldly travel or time travel, but it gives me a great list of books and movies to check out in the near future!

100 Cupboards – Book by N.D. Wilson
Alice in Wonderland
Aladdin (A Whole New World.. right?)
The Ancient One
Avatar (James Cameron’s… not the Last Airbender… although that may fit…)
Back to the Future
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (party on, dudes!)
Bridge to Terabithia
Children of the Shaft by Richard Gunther
The Chronicles of Narnia (everybody has read this, right?)
The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker (if you don’t read anything else here, read this)
Deathgate Cycle
Doctor Who
Dragon Tales
Dune
Enders Game
The Expanse
Flowers in the Attic
Gulliver’s Travels
Harry Potter
Interstellar
John Carter
Jupiter Rising
Labyrinth
Land of the Giants
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
The Magic Treehouse
Mary Poppins (a personal favorite in my Top 10 movies… maybe Top 5)
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (never would have thought of this one)
The Neverending Story
Neverwhere
Peter Pan
Outlander
Stardust
Star Trek 5
Star Wars (the force is strong with this one)
The Summer Tree
The Sword of Truth series
Tennis Shoe Among the Nephites
The Time Machine
Tomorrowland
Water Babies
Watchers in the Woods
Where the Wild Things Are
The Wizard of Oz
Wrinkle in Time
 
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Personal

 

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“What happens when I die?”

I’ve gotten used to my kids coming up with the most unusual questions at the most inopportune times, (it’s amazing what kids think about when we’re not looking) but sometimes our answers reflect what’s on our mind more than what’s on theirs.  My grand-dad just celebrated his 82nd birthday and has been very ill over the past 2 months so perhaps his final days have been on my mind more than I thought.  This conversation really happened the other day with my 9-year-old and one of his (now educated) friends in tow.

From the backseat: “What happens if I die?”

Me: “Well the Bible says that we’ll be with Jesus in heaven. That’s where our soul goes, the part inside us that is really who we are. We’re not inside our body anymore and it’s still left here on earth. So our friends and family would have a funeral and remember the good things about us and then they would bury our body in the ground.”

From the backseat: “Um… I just meant on this DS game. Do I have to repeat the level or what?”

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Family

 

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