The Lion Roared

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. Luke 24:31, NRSV

Hours, days, weeks in the hospital blurred into one long anxiety. Pain. Fatigue. Helplessness. Abandonment. Despair. Negative emotions swam through my mind and curdled my thinking…what was left of it.  My brain had no more room.  Too many tests, too long before diagnosis, longer still until treatment. I. Was. Done.

Where was the peace that passes understanding?  Where was the intimacy I normally felt and practiced?  Where was my Advocate? Where was Immanuel, God WITH us?

I paused.

Well, where was He?  It hadn’t occurred to me to look.

Aslan. Lion of Judah, my Shield, my Defender… I waited, wondering what it would feel like to have a Lion defending me.  Would he roar? Would he attack “them”– all those people and infections and reactions hurting me?  Not a mythical lion, but the Lion of Judah, who promised to be with me always.   What would He do?

He stood at the foot of my bed and He roared.

Wait! Was that an impression from God or was I making this up?  I looked up, startled that my imagination had enough strength to function.  “Lord, is that YOU?” I asked.

He roared again–at the illness, the reactions, the complications, the doctors who frightened me, the CT scans that radiated me.  He looked at me with concern, and roared again and again and again.  “Lo, I am with you always,” surfaced in my mind.

He was holding back the things that would harm.  He was standing up for me when I couldn’t even walk. He was keeping the enemy from killing, maiming and destroying.  He was my Advocate, and he would not be thwarted.

“But Lord,” I thought, focusing on the foot-of-the-bed Lion, “what do I do with this deep alone-ness, this abandonment, this pain and despair?  You’re not taking it away, you’re not filling the hole, you’re roaring.  What do I do with this?”

And then there was a Lioness, beside the bed, licking, washing, pulling me toward her.  I imagined fur, and the strong body for me to lean against.  She purred, cleaned, rubbed.  I could almost feel her breath.  This was not a theoretical “with,” but a Jesus out to prove something.  He was roaring to protect, but He was nestling to nurture.  He would care and hold and shelter.  He would provide what the doctors and nurses and caring friends could not.

For three weeks He roared and nurtured, until I came home. For another three weeks, He purred and held me, through even more procedures and pain.  My hunger for Him grew even as He reassured me. I learned to wake up and lean into those secure arms.

Until one day, just eight weeks after the hospital post-surgery nightmare, the picture in my mind was gone.  “Lord?”  I looked around, hoping I would find the reassuring image and His reassuring breath.  But no, I didn’t need it any more.  I could still lean on Him, I could still be with Him, and I could still hear the roar.  Like the encouragement of a parent long-gone, the comfort was inside me.  I’d internalized the picture and the voice, and the trauma was over.

Where is the Lion of Judah roaring for you?  Is He nurturing, caring? Or fighting and protecting? Has He remained? Or has He vanished just as you recognized His care?

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Putting the Lie to Rest

leather bound journal with calligraphy pen, by Curt Fleenor

Leather Bound Journal with Calligraphy Pen by Curt Fleenor is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

I look at my journal, that precious place where God and I meet, and I see a great, big “SHOULD” button flashing in my brain.  I try to pick up my pen, but I can’t start to write.  Shaking my head, I drop the pen back on the desk and push away the journal.  “No,” my insides shout, “not now,” so I sigh and turn to face the lush green woods outside my office window.  Something tight, something heavy, blocks my wonder, my creativity, my productivity;  I can’t even finish the simplest of tasks.  I can almost feel a physical grip on my heart.

“Oh, just do it,” my earnest evangelical friend (whose voice resides firmly in my head) exhorts.  “Don’t think and introspect;  Only start, and the rest will follow.”

Fair enough.  Plenty of times, my mountain is moved by small ant-sized accomplishments.   But this is not one of those times.  I know myself.  This lack of rest, driven busyness, and restless non-work are not driven by a lack of will.  Gutting it out may work as a short term prod, but never as a long-term solution.

“Ah,” my charismatic friend might say, “Your symptoms scream ‘enemy’!  His hallmarks, right there, holding you back!  Pray against that stronghold!”

Maybe.  In truth he is undoubtedly at work.  But that’s not where to start, not by a long shot.  Instead, I think about my reactions: my busyness, the piles of work I can’t complete, the immobilization that halts my every start.  The busyness isn’t my enemy—it’s just a coping mechanism.

What really lies at the heart?

Lurking beneath my roadblocks are usually deeper issues—reasons I don’t stop, or don’t rest, or can’t accomplish.  Unearthing those reasons will free me to move forward—or step back—intentionally.

Ironically, pondering will have to lead to journaling, that thing I don’t want to do because I’m afraid of what I will find.  Yes, that’s one block:  I’m afraid to rest and find out what’s lurking because I surely won’t like my own sin, or the sin done against me. Perhaps I won’t like the solution, either.  Can I trust that the word the Lord speaks will heal and not destroy.  Another block, surely.

But underneath is yet another lie. A bigger one, sucking me dry.  I know it’s there, and I know the process:  find the lie, discover where it came from, and pray for healing.  Listen to what the Lord says, and feel His presence changing my perspective surrounding its birth. He pours grace and peace over the still-throbbing ulcer and the pain subsides.  He heals the wound and changes my heart, and my body and soul return to rest.  Gladly.

I don’t know what it is yet.  I can’t tell you what the offending lie is, nor where it came from.  But I promise you this:  I will not rest, cannot rest, until it is found.  Jesus and I…  we will find that thing that chokes me, and Jesus will dissolve it.

And so I’m off on a lie-hunt.    And what about you?  Do you hunt, too?

Let’s hunt together, you and I. We all have those callouses of long-forgotten lies, built up to protect our vulnerable hearts.   Now they hurt instead, keeping us from all that Jesus brings: healing, restoration, and rest.

Can we join forces here?  What are the lies that hold you back?  What healing will free you and destroy them?

 

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