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Aslan’s Claws

But the lion told me I must undress first…
So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out if it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I stated to go down into the well for my bathe.
But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just has they had been before… So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
Then the lion said–but I don’t know if it spoke–”You will have to let me undress you.” I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt…

Thus Eustace relates his undragoning in C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I feel a bit of kinship with Eustace. You see, my heart is becoming as calloused as Eustace’s dragony skin, or as calcified as the crunchy aortic heart valves I helped dissect. Oh, my heart used to be soft. It used to trust everyone and reach out to everyone and put on masks with no one.
Enter this year.

There are lessons to be learned from Eustace and, as always, from Aslan.
Aslan informs Eustace that he must undress before getting to bathe his aching dragon-arm in the healing waters. Aslan does not initially inform Eustace how to do so.
Eustace tries to undress by himself. After the first skin peels away, he says, “It was a most lovely feeling.” Oh, and it is. That first attempt to reignite your passion with God or to conquer an old, ugly sin feels quite good. We are so proud of ourselves for making the attempt and for whatever meagre progress we make.

But like all things we try to conquer in our own strength, the struggles come back. We assume that since we made some progress before, we’ll be able to do it again. Like Eustace, we scratch off the outer layer of our struggle and get that feeling of satisfaction again. And the problem resurfaces. And we scratch again.
And the problem resurfaces. And we scratch again.
And the problem resurfaces. And we scratch again.

Eventually we know our measly attempts aren’t doing any good. We keep going because it’s the only thing we know to do.

Then Aslan steps in. “You can’t do this on your own. Here, let me.”
His touch is rarely gentle. God’s hands can be like a lion’s claws. Like a fire burning the dross. Like a harsh wind on the chaff. Becoming sanctified hurts.

Eustace says, “The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling that stuff peel off. You know–if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
(Having recently peeled off a particularly nasty scab, I know exactly what he’s getting at.)

It is pleasurable seeing God’s purifying work.

But I don’t know why Aslan waited for Eustace to peel off his skin. Was it because Eustace didn’t ask Aslan to help? Did Eustace simply not hear Aslan’s instructions? Did Eustace learn something incredibly valuable by trying so hard on his own? …and was that knowledge worth the wait? Did Aslan know Eustace wasn’t ready for the purifying power of Aslan’s claws?

I don’t know. Aslan, help.

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The Church has MS

The Church is the body of Christ.
…made of imperfect people.
Lately I’ve noticed the dissension within this body. People within the same church deciding not to be friends. People leaving small groups because of clashing personalities. People burnt out by what other church members have placed on them.

It’s like our body is attacking itself, as a human body with MS does. In MS, the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, causing progressive neurological effects. Instead of fighting outside attackers, the immune system attacks the body it’s supposed to protect.

Why do we do that in the Church, the very body of Christ? We hurt and are hurt by the very people that are supposed to help us defend each other against “the world.”

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