I was recently talking with a new believer. He was sharing his confusion around who God is — how overwhelming God’s nature is. And I found rising in myself a very human tendency: I wanted to make God smaller for him.
I’ve been considering why this is so often our impulse, and recently (as I was reading through Ramsey’s book, “Truth on Fire”) I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Lewis’s “The Silver Chair”. Jill is a newcomer to Narnia, and her first encounter with the King, Aslan, unfolds with all awe and wonder. As Jill is separated from her friend, she finds herself on the edge of a wood, dreadfully thirsty. She sees a clear stream, perfect for quenching her thirst. But on the water’s edge is Aslan, eyes locked in her in all his impressive lion majesty. As she debates whether or not to risk approaching him in order to drink, Aslan speaks first.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I-could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realised that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.
It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
God will not be tamed to our imaginations. We cannot make him smaller, bite sized versions of himself. He will not be brought into our human proportions. His majesty looms large, and we dare not minimize it.
So why do we approach that at all? How can we? Because there is no other stream. There is nowhere else we can go for true and eternal hope, for solace in our suffering, for forgiveness for the shame of our sin. Like the people of God, we say, “if you do not go with us, where will we go?” (Exodus 33:14-16). And like the disciples, “to whom else should we go? You alone have the word of eternal life” (John 6:68).
This becomes our daring act of worship each day: to go to the riverbank, and drink deeply of what he provides, trusting that he will always be his good and faithful self. Believing confidently that as we are in Christ, his prowess will never be turned against us, but will always be in our favor. May we recapture this sense of awe and wonder, and may it cause us to worship him more deeply today.