Lions and birds

Dear God,

I remember you told me once that you see me as a lion, not a mouse. You told me to look in the mirror and see what you see.  You knew how much I loved the Narnia books as a child; how I drew a big picture of Aslan and stuck it on my wall months before to remind myself of you, and all that you are. You stand over me, rejoicing over me, fighting for me.

You are fierce. Bold. Courageous.

I wanted to be all of these things, but though my heart and head were full of the best intentions, my courage was getting buried underneath the crushing fear of man and self-consciousness. You could have told me that one day I’d be a lion like you, that eventually I could throw off my mouse-hood but that right now I still had a long way to go. Since childhood, the words and assumptions of others had led me to believe that no matter how lion-like I felt on the inside, maybe I was a mouse after all.

But you told me that I am  a lion already- made in your likeness. You showed me that I can know myself pretty well, but you will always know me better. I love that you believe in me; that you see my heart and my potential, and your simple reminder of who you created me to be was enough to fill me with encouragement.

Being a lion and living like one are two different things. The latter I am still learning and will continue to learn until I’m no longer fit for this world. At this time, I’m realizing that the kind of lion-like behaviour you have in mind has nothing to do with power or position. Courage and strength can be quietly present. I’m learning that sometimes, courage is speaking out against injustice, but sometimes it’s knowing that my silence will speak louder. Sometimes, strength is silence in the face of rudeness and gossip. In every situation, you remind me that your ways are not the world’s.

For all this learning how to walk in your lion footsteps, there’s another part of me that feels more like a bird right now.

I feel like a bird poised on a branch. I grip the steadying solidness beneath me, knowing that soon I will have to let go. New start, new journey.

I feel like a bird waiting for the rays of the dawn to wash over me; waiting to be renewed by its warmth. I’m waiting for the light to gradually expose the horizons of my life. Light lays bare all shadows, and while this is comforting, it also forces me to confront what lies ahead. There is a part of that wishes to turn back, to return to familiar places and patterns, but the night has brought closure there, and for now at least I cannot go back. I can only grip that branch and wait for the dawn.

When that dawn comes and I head unsteadily into the next chapter of my life, I know it will take more than any lion-like courage of my own to stay airborne at all. But you are a God who is all-sufficient, more than enough to make up for what I lack. You will go before me and I will follow.

C.

Help, I have no sense of direction.

In June one of my dreams came true. My friend Helen and I hopped on a Eurostar and went to Paris for the first time. We were only there for a few days so we crammed in as much as possible, and that meant a lot of legwork, metro-hopping, and map-reading. Thankfully, Helen’s map-reading skills proved invaluable, and eventually we were fairly confident about our general sense of direction. But throughout the trip, we had to stop like the bumbling tourists we were to consult our overpriced map.

Without that map we would have been stuck at Gare du Nord from the get-go. Or we’d be miserably lost in the middle of some strange neighbourhood, destined never to dine in Montmartre or wander down the Champs Elysée . We needed a reference point to base our plans around.

I think life as a whole is like that. We look for pointers to assure us that what we’re doing is OK, that we’re on the right track and not wandering aimlessly in circles. We always want to be moving forward, and by forward we generally agree on a sense of improvement. In our circumstances. In our relationships. In our character. Paris, beautiful and exciting and vibrant as it is, would have gotten pretty dull if Helen and I had only seen the Eiffel tower. We all want to keep moving. We all hope for better.

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