The last several weeks have been full of so many new experiences and adjustments as I grow more and more accustomed to my new life here in Indiana. Some of those experiences have been what I would call growing pains. That is to say those experiences one goes through that aren’t easy at all but if handled wisely, causes one to grow as a person. Some of what the last few weeks have held for me has been this whole concept of wishing and desires.
Wishing definitely isn’t a new idea in any sense. One can hardly turn on a Disney movie without seeing a character wishing for something or someone. Snow White comes on the screen singing into a well: “I’m wishing for the one I love to find me today.” Cinderella dances with her mice and bird friends singing that a dream is a wish your heart makes and that the dreams that you wish will come true. Aladdin has three wishes and wishes to become a prince. Mowgli wishes to be a bear. The list goes on and on. Perhaps that’s why we love watching these classics so much because we can identify so well with wishing. It’s part of who we are to wish for things to be better or for things to work out a certain way in life.
But, what do we do when things don’t work out or go the way we would wish them to?
Naturally, I have my own wishes and desires in life. I wish for more sleep, for that amazing smooth strong cup of coffee, for the lesson I prepared for the class I teach to go well :), to have a job someday when I finish graduate school, for that phonology problem to actually makes sense, and so on. But, beyond those daily wishes, I have those deep desires and wishes that are a part of who I am. I’ve had those wishes all of my life. These wishes are deep in the heart and are incredibly important and good, but they are also so incredibly dangerous. Thus far God has not granted one of those desires in particular. I’m not bitter about it, but a recent experience made it seem ever so much harder to be content. What seemed like the fulfillment of that wish was staring me in the face and all I had to do was reach my hand out and grasp it. But, it was not to be. If I had forced my way, it would not have turned into the fulfillment I would have wanted. But, oh, how I wanted it so badly.
As I’ve ruminated over this, a part of C.S. Lewis’s story The Magician’s Nephew came to mind. It was the part when Digory was sent on his mission to get the special apple to bring back to Aslan. When Digory came to the garden, he saw a sign with silver letters that read:
Come in by the gold gates or not at all, Take of my fruit for others or forbear, For those who steal or those who climb my wall Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair.
Digory didn’t fully know what the sign meant until after he got the apple he was sent to retrieve. In the garden he met the witch who had stolen and eaten the forbidden apples. She tried to persuade Digory to take the apple he’d been sent to get for Aslan. She used Digory’s deep desire of having his dying mother healed to tempt him. It was so hard for Digory to resist! He wanted his mother healed so badly, but in the end he fled back to his companion Polly and went back to Aslan. After the apple was planted to protect Narnia, Aslan explained to Polly why the apple tree would keep the witch away even though the witch had eaten the apples:
“Child,” he replied, “that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after.”
Aslan later explained to Digory that if he had taken the apple for his mother, it would have healed her but that both he and his mother would have later wished he’d never brought her the apple. This part of the story illustrates so well that very a hard lesson in life that we so often face no matter what the circumstance or wish is. Our wishes may well be honest and good, but we have to be so guarded to not just “take that apple” so to speak without the proper wisdom or guidance. This is why those deep desires can be so dangerous.
God knows everything about us as one can clearly see in Psalm 139:
O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
He knows our desires and our afflictions. Yet, He is a jealous God and will not abide idols. Thus, He tries us and sometimes that testing comes through our wishes. In life there are times when we are met by something that seems like just what we’ve been wishing for, but God asks us if we are willing to sacrifice even our deepest desires to follow Him. These are the times when He asks us like He asked Peter “Do you love me?”. We feel so weak because we know we love Christ and we want to follow Him, but we’re grasping onto this other thing too. Sometimes we have to just beg God to pry it from our fingers because we don’t have the will power to resist it.
It seems so cruel to have a carrot dangling in front of your face and you have to disregard it. Afterwards, it can be so easy to harbor bitterness or to hold this sacrifice before God’s face claiming He owes you something. But, thinking like that means one is not looking at the cross. When you then turn your gaze there and look to Christ, everything comes back into perspective. You realize where you stand before a Holy God and a Sacrificial Lamb and everything else fades away.
No one denies going through this is hard, but, oh, it’s so worth it even if you can’t see right now why it’s worth it. Maybe there is no hope in sight that that this wish will ever be fulfilled, but you don’t truly know that, do you? As Digory found out, it would be better to have that wish remain unfulfilled than to be miserable with the result of having that wish fulfilled in the wrong way.
Press on, and don’t give up hope! The Lord is faithful and a loving Father. He’ll never let you down. You can trust Him with those wishes.
Lewis, C. S., and Pauline Baynes. The Magician’s Nephew. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print.