Saturday, May 24, 2008

Waiting for the Lion's Roar

I apologize for the lengthy blog-absence and now, without any further ado, I want to plunge right in (If you don't know by now that I am a "Narnia" fan, gentle reader, you must've been subscribing to a different blog!) with some thoughts on walking in faith, based on the somewhat controversial portrayal of High King Peter in the new Disney film, "Prince Caspian."

If you've been following the "buzz" surrounding the characterization of Peter Pevensie in the film, you will note that many book "purists" are highly critical of King Peter being portrayed as having a "bad attitude" in the new Narnia film, when he is so unwaveringly noble in the book. I don't suppose that I previously had an opinion one way or another (I was more focused on the portrayal of Edmund -- more on him and a blog entry on "The Graciousness of Forgiveness" to come), but as I sat through a 2nd viewing of the film last night, I saw Peter in a different light. His attitude wasn't so much "bad" as it was "broken."

Aslan had not made his presence known in over a year (London time), and even after Susan's magic horn had been blown for help, the Great Lion has not appeared. If you have never known the woundedness of keenly feeling the seeming absence of God, especially in an hour of great need, I will go as far as suggesting that perhaps you have never really known God. And when we no longer sense His nearness in our situation, we are faced with a choice --- we can either dig past our feelings (or lack thereof) and cling to His promises; or, like High King Peter in the current film, we can give voice to our discouragement ("I think we've waited for Aslan long enough") and take matters into our own hands.

Some of the greatest heroes of the faith have, like this version of Peter Pevensie, briefly yielded to discouragement when, in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances, they felt abandoned by God. The "horn" has been blown in a call for help, and not only has help not arrived, but there is no explanation. Just silence.

In Psalm 73 one of the sons of Asaph, in a moment of wavering faith says, "But as for me, my sure footing was almost gone; my steps had nearly slipped" (v. 2), and as he ponders some unanswered questions in his crisis, he confesses "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me." (v. 16) And, in his dark night of soul, Job cries out, "Oh, if I knew where I might find Him! I would go, even to His throne!" (Job 23:3)

Lest we are further tempted to judge the High King of Narnia, Peter Pevensie, for his grief-stricken faltering in the current movie portrayal, I'd like to suggest that it is his very nobility of character that makes his struggle so real and poignant. In a recent sermon newsletter by New York pastor, David Wilkerson, entitled "An Eclipse of Faith," he points out that "Satan doesn't demand opportunities to break down people whose faith is weak or wavering."

Now, we know that just as the son of Asaph and Job did see God again and had their faith strengthened and restored, so does King Peter in this new film version of "Prince Caspian," and that being said, I do reccomend the film!

Meanwhile, what do we do when our own faith is threatened by an eclipse? We've called on God in prayer, done all that we know to do---we've blown the "horn," so to speak, but no help seems to have come. I'd like to close by reminding us that a seemingly delayed response from God and a brief eclipse of our faith do not mean that He didn't hear our cry and set His answer in motion from the very first moment:

Daniel 10:1-19

In the third year of Cyrus... a message was revealed to Daniel...the message was true, but the appointed time [of waiting] was long...In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food... nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled... Now as I lifted my eyes and looked... a certain man [appeared] clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold... his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

...Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me...Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground...Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you."

Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and now I have come because of your words...When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless...And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, "My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me." Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, "O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!" So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me."