Wild animals surrounded him. This was not looking good.
They were all looking at him and making their wild animal sounds. “How did a respectable English scientist like me get here,” thought Uncle Andrew. “What did I do to deserve this?” Indeed, when he could avoid it, he himself never actually did anything. Safe in his laboratory, he convinced or tricked or blackmailed others to do his experiments and take the risks, even his own nephew, Digory. Uncle Andrew had to stay safe in order to objectively evaluate the results. All for the greater good of science, of course.
He was sure this all must be his nephew Digory’s fault, that bratty child who wasn’t even afraid of all these wild animals. Fear gripped Uncle Andrew, such fear as he had never known. He knew from his scientific training and great career as a master of rational thought that his best chance of survival among all these wild beasts was to be silent and perfectly still. So he was, while the animals continued to bray, howl, trumpet and bark at him.
What really happened, on that remarkable first day in Narnia, was this. Aslan, the lion, had just created Narnia and all of its wonderful talking animals by singing everything into existence. Young Digory, his friend Polly, his Uncle Andrew, a carriage driver and his wife, along with an evil destroyer of worlds — the sorceress Jadis, had found themselves witnessing the whole thing. How this happened is too long a story to relate here, but CS Lewis tells it masterfully in The Magician’s Nephew, Book 6 in The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s actually the prequel to the rest of the 7-book series, explaining, among other things, the origins of the White Witch and why there’s a lamppost in the middle of a forest.
Anyway, the animals were actually talking to Uncle Andrew, but the way he’d prejudged the world, in his scientific, humanistic arrogance, prevented him from seeing, hearing and accepting what was really happening. Instead, his mind only allowed him to hear generic animal sounds, not the words and syllables they were actually speaking.
When he wouldn’t speak back and interact with them like the other humans did, the animals had a hilarious discussion about whether or not he was really a plant, probably a tree that needed to be planted. The bulldog was convinced, by the amazing sense of smell Aslan gave him, that Uncle Andrew was, in fact, a human. But the other animals prevailed, and they planted him up to his waist in a hole. Then the elephant watered him, hoping it would revive the droopy vines on top of his head.
Although they should’ve listened to the bulldog, you have to give the animals a break here. It was their first day in existence and they weren’t experts in biology yet. When Aslan rescued poor Uncle Andrew, although all Uncle Andrew allowed himself to hear was a lion roaring and growling, Aslan lamented, “O, sons of Adam, how well you protect yourselves from everything that would do you good!”
We Do the Same Thing
Although we laugh at poor Uncle Andrew, we do this all the time, both as individuals and as a society. At the root, we don’t want a God hanging around telling us how to live our lives, so, in our arrogance, we explain him away in the name of “science.” Never mind the fact that our “scientific” theory of evolution has more holes in it than a fisherman’s net and leaks logic like a sieve, not standing up to scientific scrutiny itself (that’s another blog post, don’t get me started). But it protects our desired world-view from the reality of the world-view we don’t want.
“Denial protects what we want to believe from being overthrown by what is real.” — Dr. Theresa Burke
We live in a secular society that denies, mocks, and often persecutes any type of faith. So how do you believe in the face of so much scorn? Here are 3 key take-aways.
3 Keys to Keep Believing
1) Dare to Take the Risk. So often people say, “Well, if God does a miracle for me, then I’ll believe.” That’s a safe bet. The problem is, God’s not into safety, he’s into faith. Dangerous faith. Faith that puts you out there on a limb. Faith that remains out there, even when the limb breaks.
In the Kingdom of God, everything’s upside-down and backwards from human thinking. There are exceptions, but in general you get your miracle after you believe, not before. God responds to faith; he just laughs at ultimatums.
People don’t believe because they don’t want to look foolish if they’re wrong. Perfect love drives out all fear. Faith takes the risk, and it doesn’t disappoint us (Romans 5:5). In fact, in the Kingdom you spell faith R-I-S-K.
2) Don’t Just Know, but Experience the Reality of Jesus. As Christians, we have the advantage of personally knowing who we believe in. Jesus is a living person we can really talk to, and who really talks to us. In the Bible, the word “know” can be translated “experience.” It is Greek philosophy, not Hebrew, that separates the two. As Christians, loving the Jewish Messiah, we follow Hebrew, not Greek, thinking. In fact, Proverbs has a special word for someone with head knowledge but no experience — fool.
God wants to make himself real to you. That looks different for every person. What works for me won’t work for you, and vice versa. But there’s something that will work for everyone — pursuit. God promises us, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
How long do you have to pursue him? As long as it takes, through all the pain. Until he shows up in your life in the middle of that pain. And he always will. He wants it more than you do.
3) Share without Apology. We don’t have to prove there’s a God. Honestly, people know there is, they just don’t want to admit it. The word of your testimony is powerful (Revelation 12:11). Just share what God’s done for you. Answer their questions when they ask, but don’t waste your breath answering questions they’re not asking.
The truth is, many people really want to believe, but their fear and their wounding are holding them back. But we have the perfect love that drives out all fear (Jesus himself). When they are mean to us, and we still treat them with love, respect, and honor, it shatters their bitter-root expectation about how people will treat them, and they want what we have.
Our faith changes the atmosphere when we walk in the room. And the truth is, the world really wants our faith whether they realize it or not.