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Sifted like wheat

It's a crisp, sunny morning and I walked out my door to the smell of wood smoke from a neighbor's chimney. It felt pretty close to perfect.

Nothing hits me with quite the same sadness and anger as watching those who have professed love for Jesus reject and walk away from him. Nothing disturbed me in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia quite as much as the following passage from The Last Battle:

"Sire," said Tirian, when he had greeted all there, "if I have read the chronicles aright, there should be another. Has not your Majesty two sisters? Where is Queen Susan?"

"My sister Susan," answered Peter shortly and gravely, "is no longer a friend of Narnia."

"Yes," said Eustace, "and whenever you've tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says, 'What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.'"

"Oh, Susan!" said Jill. "She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

"Grown-up, indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can."

It's one thing for Christ to continue to be rejected by those who've never loved Him. Still terrible, considering the extent of the love He's extended, but nothing like the betrayal of those who've claimed to love Him. That's a deeply intimate rejection, the shunning of a spouse, not just a suitor. It's not just denying a belief system—it's spitting in the face of a Lover who suffered the Cross on behalf of His beloved. I've seen people justify rejecting Him because of their own pain and woundedness, but not one of them has ever suffered as He did for them. Not one. The arrogance of such a claim is stunning.

It's a level of self-absorption I refuse to coddle, plain and simple. I won't wrap it in flowery phrases like "a wandering on your journey"—if you're rejecting Jesus, then that's what you're doing, and it would be dishonest to pretend you're doing anything less. Is it offensive? Absolutely. Of course it is. You see, I'm learning to love Him above all else, and I watched you betray Him. I won't pretend I didn't (how could you respect me if I did?). I know who He is, and I know who you are, so I know who's wrong. Is it forgivable? Absolutely. In fact, I don't have another option. If there's no forgiveness for you, there's none for me, either. But let's not act as if there's nothing to forgive. That's simply untrue.

I've seen it too much. I'm tired of watching friends turn and fall. Not that they should keep up illusions for my sake—falseness from friends is even more abhorrent. But it makes me cry out, "How long, O Lord? How many?" Only He knows. In the parable of the sowers, Jesus prepares us for this reality as much as He can. As much as He can, because no words can fully ready us to see Him rejected, to see plants we believed were healthy wither and die.

There was surely pain in Peter Pevensie's voice when he spoke of his wayward sister. There was surely pain in Jesus' voice when he told Simon Peter he would deny Him. But the stage was always set for his restoration—from Jesus' prediction of the betrayal before His death, to the angel's specific instructions to tell Peter He had risen, to the risen Christ's thrice-repeated question to him: "Do you love Me?".

His grace is not diminished by anyone's rash and selfish refusal of it, nor is His authority. He still is who He is. And He alone knows when the hour of His favor will come to an end. "Seek the Lord while He may be found."


This Semester I'm in New Testament II, and a recurrent theme we've encountered is that of perseverence-- that there are few real measurable signs that someone is in fact a Christian, but perseverence is one of them. And we're encouraged over and over to persevere in our faith, despite difficulties, and I think that is simply (as you pointed out w/ the parable of the sowers) because we are prone to give up.

Are you currently reading the Narnia books?

I printed this off for H. She's not familiary with the writings of banzai.
I'm not reading them now, but they're pretty firmly engrained in me.

I know this sounds like such an over-done thought but when things are at their hardest, all I have to do is put myself mentally on the road to Calvary on that dreadful day or stand before the crucified Christ and really look at Him, and everything else fades away.

Some days, it is the only thing that allows me to cling to faith I'm ashamed to say. When things are really, really hard it sort of puts things back in true perspective.

Jesus talks in John about how we are "the ones You have given [Me]" and how He is glorified is us. A lot of days, I don't feel like much of a gift to Him that's for sure.

Been there

You're right, but it seems like you've never been the elder brother or the Martha of the bunch. The guilt and shame that I dealt with when I walked away was much greater than any disapointment and anger than you have now. I've been there and it's tough and scary. I'm grateful for being snatched back from myself and the enemy but it's not as simplistic as it may seem. The need to perform and to please sometimes overwhelms people and blinds them to the sheer overpowering Love. Then we get tired and give up, not realizing how light the burden really is. I know it's hard to watch, from my own experience with friends, but it's not as easy for those out there as you may think.

Re: Been there

I don't think it's easy for anyone. And I think people can experience a broad range of emotions in any circumstance. I do, however, think we pretty much have to lay down our pain and suffering cards at the foot of the Cross, because honestly, they just don't compare to that. That's where we can discover humility—His and our own. And I don't think we can persevere without that discovery.
i never read The Chronicles when i was a child, but have wanted to, so the movie coming out has been my motivation. i've almost finished the first book and i can honestly say i have never ever in all the sermons i've heard through my life, and i've heard a lot, felt in my heart/soul what Jesus did on the cross as I did when I read of Aslan giving up himself for Edmund, the rebellious little boy who knew he was rebellious, and in his own selfishness was the "deal-breaker"; i am edmund; and i put aslan on that stone.
I won't wrap it in flowery phrases like "a wandering on your journey"—if you're rejecting Jesus, then that's what you're doing, and it would be dishonest to pretend you're doing anything less.

Along the lines of "calling it what it is", in sunday school, we were talking to the kids and discussed how christians say, "he walked away from God". But knowing that we're either for Him or against Him? That we can't serve two masters? Why make it sound flowery and almost - dare I say it - admirably angst-ridden? Let's just say they're walking towards the enemy. It should be a very ugly thing, this "walking away from God" business. You're making a choice for evil. Not just shunning good.

two words:

you. rock.
1. Ouch. This hurts, but certainly me least of all.

2. I love to see you proclaiming and staying true to Jesus' character. Beautiful.

3. One interesting thing is that (in the fam's holiday reading of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we noticed) Susan was always the Pevensie most concerned with safety. She questioned the safety of pretty much every adventure in the book. Not sure if that foreshadowed her later turning away or if I'm looking for parallels where there are none.


I agree - that's something I noticed too. She was always the one with the least faith. I think it's a definite example of foreshadowing.

I read the Narnia books with a discipleship group. I love discussion on these books. I could talk about them all day long.

And then there are those...

Those who have been wounded, by members of the body.

Those who drag themselves to the pew on a Sunday morning, and sit there, dead in spirit, a dull ember glowing deep inside, yet unable to fan that flame back into life.

Knowing that there is more than dull repetition to this life, but seemingly unable to find a way to do that.

And hoping against hope that they can find a way back...

Re: And then there are those...

There is hope indeed. No one has been wounded more than He. No one.
You know I am with you in this.

I also believe that some walk away from what is an illusion of *true faith* to everyone else. Some have lived this life in bondage, when it looked to everyone else that they were in a deep relationship with Christ. They know the words, they know the life style...but it's all a lie. So they walk away from it and I believe with all my heart that it's the only way they can ever actually find Christ. When they walk away from the church they have been raised in and use as a means of duplicity. That's not the church's fault, of course. And it's what they need to walk back into. But only when it's because of Jesus...not because of everyone else around them.
Indeed, we must give up lies. I don't have much respect for trading one for another, though. That's just rearranging furniture on the deck of The Titanic. We all have so many ways of making our chosen paths seem wise and good and true, or, failing that, inevitable and not our fault. Me, I look for submission to Him. There's no true freedom without that. When I don't see it, I'm slow to trust anything else, regardless of how "authentic" it may seem.

I agree: no one has been called to live a lie. And if someone is walking away from Jesus, they cannot possibly be walking toward the truth. Ever.

It's amazing how far people will go and how much people will turn away and run from Jesus when all He has ever done is love us. He already has His arms spread out in the shape of a hug. All we have to do is hug back. Pride and selfishness do that to people I guess. Folks are so quick to shun God when things don't go their way.

Bad stuff happens to people. Deal with it, lean on your Maker for support, and get over it. Easy steps to follow, but some people can't seem to grasp them.
That part always upset me too, especially when I thought about how Susan was there when Aslan rose from the dead. The Last Battle remains my favorite Narnia book, but (and I wish I was more eloquent like you) that part always scares me. I sorta fear that someday I might do that myself...do you sometimes feel like you can't control your mind sometime? Like, right now you're comfortable with God, but one day, one day something might happen to shake that relationship. I hope I never reject Jesus, but you know, I bet Peter never thought he would do something like that either.

Eh, I hope that made sense. Oh well.