Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Playing it Safe"

Aslan from Walt Disney's Chronicles of NarniaGenesis 26.16;
Matthew 8.34 NASU

“Then Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.’

“And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.”

In the Bible reading plan I am following there are, coincidentally, two verses that sound very similar in spite of their contextual differences. One is from the Old Testament, the other from the New. They are separated by nearly 2,000 calendar years and about 1,000 Bible pages.

In the Genesis account, Abimelech king of the Philistines, told Isaac to “go away… for you are too powerful for us.” God’s blessing was with Isaac. He could do no wrong. Everything he touched turned to gold. Wherever his herdsmen dug, they found water. Isaac’s prosperity during a time of famine in Palestine created bad blood among the Philistines and the king concluded, “Isaac, this town’s not big enough for the two of us!”

According to the passage in Matthew, Jesus caused a minor riot among the herdsmen near the city of Gedara by sending demons into a herd of pigs. The animals stampeded their way over a cliff to their death in the Sea of Galilee. The Gedarenes pleaded with Jesus to leave town. They could have quoted king Abimelech words to Isaac: “Go away… for you are too powerful for us”.

In the first volume of “The Chronicles of Narnia” [1] series, Mr. Beaver attempts to explain the character of the story’s hero to the human children…

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? 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.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Jesus isn’t safe. He’s the king and He’s good, but not safe. Good people reject Christ from fear of what He may require of them, imploring Him: “go away… for you are too powerful for us”. If I am not ready to risk everything for the adventure of a lifetime, then perhaps I too should play it safe like Abimelech, the Gedarenes, and most of humanity, and send Jesus away from my quiet and easy life.

[1] The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 1950, First Collier Books Edition, 1970, pp. 75f.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dave. I never made the connection between those two events until you drew my attention to it today. one event is driven by jeleausy and the other by fear. But they both come to the same conclusion.

Interesting that Abimilech made a peace treaty with Abraham and then again with Isaac. This was followed up with approximately 1000 years of fighting and fueding. Human beings: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

My journal entry for Wednesday:

"Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father. Then Esau wept aloud."

----Genesis. ch 27, vs 38.

Man, who of us can not identify with Esau on this one? All of us desperately seek the love and approval of our parents. And traditionally it is the father who either extends or witholds that blessing. John Eldridge points this out clearly in his book: Wild At Heart.

As the father of three daughters, I am often reminded that I hold in my hands a powerful sword with which I can tap my daughters on the shoulders and bless them, or symbolically speaking, I can cut them to pieces. I can bless them or curse them and I find that responsibility almost frightening.

A few months ago, I went in to say goodnight to daughter # 2. I sant down on her bed and we simply began to talk. Over the course of the next several minutes, something happened that turned out to be quite revolutionary in our relationship. You see, I had always assumed that daughter # 2 was preferenced to her mother. I assumed that she spent more time with my wife because she was more comfortable with her and because she and my wife had more in common. Then, a few minutes into our conversation, and without warning, my middle daughter began to cry. Then she blurted out: "Daddy, I don't feel like I get enough time with you." Beihg a middle child myself, I quiuckly began to understand what she was talking about. Although my oldest daughter does not now, nor will she ever receive my exclusive blessing, she is still the oldest and therefore the first to laugh, walk, talk and steal her daddy's heart. She never hurts for my attention.

Child # 3 goes by the nickname: "Boomer" which is short for boomerang. Here's how it works. Child # 3 asks for a receives a hug. She then gets set down on the couch. Within 30 seconds she returns to me for hug # 2, which she receives before again being set down on the couch.(After all, daddy eventually has to go to work). The pattern will repeat itself almost without end. Just like a boomerang, my youngest child always finds her way back into my arms.

With all that competition, it's easy for child # 2 to get lost in the shuffle. I was actually thankful for that evening. We bonded ina way that we never had before. I assured her that not only did I love her, but as a middle child myself, I was uniquely qualified to undersatnd what she was going through. Today I find more opportunities to seek her out and make a space for her on my lap. After all, unlike Isaac, I have more than one blessing to give.


Dave, you never told me your thoughts about me naming my first born son after Esau.

Dave's Bible Blog said...

Very touching and heartfelt explanation of the middle child syndrome. Thanks for sharing with such transparency.

As far as the naming Esau thing, remind me about that at tomorrow's men's breakfast.

Your Bro,