Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Removing Dragon Flesh With Burning Coals

Suggested Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8

In C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace, one of the children who gets magically transported to Narnia, falls under an enchantment and becomes a dragon, unable to communicate properly with his shipmates and powerless to return to his human form. Eustace, who had started off as a pain in everyone's side with an antagonistic view of all of his shipmates, doesn't realize how bad he's been until he sees how well he is treated as a dragon, even though he is a burden to his companions. Finally, Aslan the Great Lion appears in order to remove Eustace's dragon curse.  He does so by ripping into the dragon flesh with his claws, peeling it away, and causing Eustace enormous pain. But Eustace welcomed the pain because it accompanied his healing. Almost instantly, the pain was forgotten in the joy that he had been restored to his rightful form.

The prophet Isaiah, I think, experienced a similar sensation when he saw the Lord seated on the throne of Heaven. Immediately, upon seeing the Lord, Isaiah said, "Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for (Isaiah 6:5-7, HCSB). Isaiah's immediate reaction to seeing the Lord was one of pain; he became acutely aware of his sinfulness and knew it created a problem. More than that, the cure itself was painful: a burning coal pressed against his lips. But Isaiah never mentioned the pain this act undoubtedly caused him. The fact that his sin had been cleansed from him overrode the pain.

God's process for removing the sin from our lives is almost always painful. God removes our delusions and shatters the false images we have of ourselves. Often God pulls out the sin by allowing us to suffer its consequences and experience a great deal of pain. But when we allow God to do what is necessary, embracing the purifying fire and the pain that comes with it, God is able to peel away our sinful covering and restore us to our proper form. We can become the people God created us to be in the first place.

If you haven't yet, you will eventually experience the pain that comes when God begins purifying you and removing the sin in your life. Rather than running from the pain, when you recognize God exposing and dealing with your sin, embrace the pain, laying yourself open to God's cleansing work in your life. The process will be painful but, once completed, will be something you look back on with a profound sense of gratitude and joy.

What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Suggested Reading: Judges 16:4-21 or Judges 16 (the whole Samson and Delilah story) I may lose some readers over this statement, but.....