Aslan is on the move!
Gen. 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good…"
In the beginning, God. He is the Beginning and the End. In the beginning, God created. He is the Creator of life. He is the Author of life. And He is the Author of your story. God is giving you and me and each one of us a story, a story which unfolds one page at a time, just like all stories. There are no cliff notes. There’s no fast forward button, or skip. We can’t tivo this. No, this is the ultimate reality show, and not only are you and I in it, we have a starring role! We are starring in our own reality show, produced by the consummate Executive Producer Himself. And actually we’re just the co-stars - the real star is Jesus. He’s like Tom Cruise (hope that’s not too blasphemous) - He’s both producing and starring in this reality adventure/docudrama. This is your life. And you know who’s the audience, right? Jesus is in the audience, yep - front and center! But guess who else is watching? Your neighbors. Those around you. Your family. Your friends. Your classmates and co-workers. The barista at Starbucks. Everyone you meet. The angels in heaven. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses in fact…! (Heb 12.1)
But sometimes the plot thickens, doesn’t it? Or sometimes, it just doesn’t seem like anything is happening at all, doesn’t it? It feels like things seem formless and void. Emptiness. A wasteland. The kind of chaos you get when no one is in charge. Or worse, something bad is happening, and darkness is over the surface of our deep. God, what are You up to? What are You doing? Are You still in charge? We’re in the middle of one of those plot twists. Or we’re still stuck in the aftermath of a previous plot twist, and we just can’t seem to shake it. We can’t get past it. There’s this cloud of darkness hanging over us. Something from our past. Or something we’re facing right now, today. It might be something looming on the horizon. And sometimes it feels like nothing is happening, nothing is changing. Nothing is getting any better. Things are in fact getting worse.
But guess what - in the middle of the dark times, when things just seem so formless and void, the Spirit of God is moving. The Spirit of God is moving. Rest assured. The word in the Hebrew implies that He was hovering, like an eagle which is concerned for the well-being of its young. And that is exactly what the Lord does with us. His Spirit is hovering over you and me. He is moving, hovering over the surface of our waters. He is on the move.
“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed,” [said Beaver].
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different.... At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”
There had been a long season of winter. Dark times. Hard times. And the people (animals) were waiting for something to happen. But is it not fair to ask whether or not Aslan was always moving? Is He not always up to something? Or, should we use the name by which He is known in our world? Jesus - God saves. Emmanuel - God with us. He is always with us. He will never leave or forsake us. Israel experienced something very similar - they waited for centuries for the Promised Messiah. They waited hundreds of years with not even a peep from the Lord, waiting while the Gentiles ruled over them and subjected them to all kinds of subjegation. Is He not always doing something, even in the dark times? The periods of silence?
Gal. 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law…
But what was God doing up until that so-called "fullness of time"? From the very beginning? Was He not always in charge, and “filling up” the time? The Spirit of God was moving, He was hovering… The Spirit of God, this One Who Jesus sent to be our Helper, to be God with us - and God IN us! God is on the move, even when things look formless and void, when it doesn’t look like anything is happening, when we can’t see a thing in front of us cuz darkness is over the surface of our deep. The Spirit of God, the Author of our salvation, is on the move.
We all have dark times. Tough times. Hard times are sure to come, Jesus said. So if you haven’t had any yet, you will. If you’re not facing any plot twists yet - you will be. You will be.
I faced a few plot twists in my life. I do feel like I’ve so far somehow avoided some of the darker more desperate plot twists which so many face. My parents divorced when I was in 8th grade. One of my darkest seasons was my third year in ministry. I had come to Christ while in college, and had seen tremendous fruit in ministry. I had received a ministry assignment to Princeton University where the Lord raised up a dozen disciples into whom I was pouring my life, and now here not one of them remained. They had all disinvolved. This was not any kind of spiritual multiplication I had ever seen - it was spiritual subtraction! And then in the midst of these struggles in ministry, my girlfriend broke up with me. Dropped me like a cold french fry. Rejection. Failure. But you may have experienced something far worse…
Gen. 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Little Joe. He was intimately acquainted with dark times. With rejection - and betrayal. With delayed justice. With hope deferred and shattered dreams. You remember the story, right? He was the favored son of Israel, patriarch of God’s chosen people, and all his brothers were jealous. His dad gave him the fancy coat and all his brothers were jealous. Joseph had dreams about his brothers bowing down to him, and all his brothers were jealous. His family hated him. One day they turned on him, threw him in a well, and trafficked him to some traders who took him far from home and sold him as a slave to a wealthy Egyptian. The ultimate injustice. There he worked hard and did what was right but eventually was falsely accused of wrongdoing by the boss’s wife and thrown into prison. There he worked hard and did what was right but continued to languish in that place of darkness. Finally he was released - after who knows how long - and was exalted to the right hand of the king of Egypt himself. There God used him to not only prepare an entire nation to survive a coming famine, but he wound up being able to help and ultimately preserve his long-lost family as well. Including his betraying brothers!
And there in Egypt, after their father passed away, his brothers are afraid that the chickens are going to come home to roost. That their now-powerful brother is going to finally have his revenge, that he is going to exact his pound of flesh and make up for what they did to him, those many years ago. And yet here he is with a heart full of grace and forgiveness. He is at peace in the present because he was at peace with his past. He had perspective on all those dark times, all that he endured because of what his brothers did to him. He understood two things, two fundamental truths which will rock your world. Actually, what they will do is bring peace. They will calm it right down.
Psa. 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Prov. 16:9 The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
Is. 25:1 O LORD, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
Jer. 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’
2) God meant it - for good. He has a good plan - because He is good. He knows exactly what He is doing - just like Ferris Bueller (infinitely moreso!) - except instead of maybe being up to no good He is in fact up to all good. It’s all good with God. He has good plans. We always get it good, because He is oh so good. This is God’s way of doing things.
Look at how He worked from the beginning. God made something, and He saw that it was good. He made something else, and saw that it was good. He did something else, and saw that it was good. He blessed His creatures - literally showered His goodness on them - and finally at the end of the sixth day, He stepped back and admired all that He had made. Cuz it was amazing.
31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
"Very good." That may be the understatement of all time, The Hebrew word there is a superlative. Muchness. To the n-th degree. Totally good. Exceedingly good. Best. Ever. And that’s how He rolls, our exceedingly good God. He good. And He always means it, plans it for good. (Rom 8.28) He is always hovering, always working out an exceedingly good plan. Even when things are formless or dark as night.
These two truths go together like peanut butter and jelly. God meant it, and He meant it for good. Inseparable, hand in hand. Like pancakes and syrup. (Unless you’re like Buddy the Elf - apparently for elves syrup is its own food group).
Even tho Joseph's brothers were out to get him, even tho they meant it for evil, the goodness of God’s good plan was greater still. Even in the midst and in the aftermath of his dark sea of darkness, Joseph knew that God was with him, and that His God was consummately in control, breathtakingly good. He means it for good. That’s what He says about you and me:
Ps 139:14-16 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
In other words, you - and me - we’re wonderful. I am wonderful. Say it. God has planned it - all of it - for good.
We could ask - as many do - why? Why these plot twists? Why does God allow them to happen? Why all this brokenness? Why does God allow it to exist, to continue? And more specifically, why did God allow that to happen to me? If I am the apple of His eye - which He says I am - why didn’t He keep that from happening? He is almighty God, and nothing is too difficult for Him. He could have prevented it. So why didn’t He? Why did God allow that to happen to me? It is the age old problem of evil. If God is really good, then why is there so much bad? Why did that bad thing happen? Maybe He’s not in control? Maybe He’s really not all powerful? Or maybe He doesn’t care? Maybe He is like that blind watchmaker - He doesn’t see, and He’s not involved after all? Maybe He doesn’t care? Cuz if He really cared, He wouldn’t let this happen? He would intervene, and head it off at the pass. See, all of these questions are legit, cuz we are hardwired best-ever, for goodness which never ends. We know that we know that we know in our heart of hearts that the world is supposed to be good. And Justice is supposed to rain down and reign on the earth. Good things are supposed to happen - not bad things. Not things which cause crying or pain or sickness or death. These are the unwelcome invaders. The barbaric barbarians which twist the plots of our lives into all kinds of brokenness. One thing we do know is that the entire system has been hacked. This exceedingly good creation was broken when sin entered the world, when the first man and woman chose to swap out their Maker and put something else in His rightful place. And brokenness has been the default template ever since. It’s the malicious malware which has infected the entire operating system, Sometimes we don’t have a specific answer to the question of why, why did God let this happen? All we have to hold on to is that He has a plan, and that He means it for good, somehow, some way. And this is part of the journey of faith, which is the assurance of things unseen (Heb 11.1). We don’t always see the good plan God is working out. Not right away. It may take some time. They say time heals - sometimes that just means you are far enough removed from the twisty wound that you are able to gain some perspective on it. But know this - His plans are never, ever frustrated. What He means to do, what He means for good, will come to pass. His “mean to” is not like our “mean to”. “I didn’t mean to do it”, we say. We all the time are doing things which we didn’t mean to do. Or I meant to do it, but didn’t do it. Not so with the Lord.
Is. 14:27 “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
So where is He in the midst of the formless and dark sea of darkness? He is on the move. He is moving over the waters of the deep. His plans are never frustrated. What He means for good, will be good. With Him, we always get it good.
1Th. 5:24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
So our response? Faith. Trusting the One Who is fully and forever trustworthy. Trust, even when we don’t see the good in it (not yet at least). Faith is the assurance of things NOT seen. God, I will trust You. I will trust that You are who You say You are, that You are on the move. And I will thank You (1Th 5.18). And I will worship You.