I have finally done what I have been avoiding for weeks: the destruction of the books that will become journals for my nieces and nephews at Christmastime. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken apart a book. It’s not that difficult, I suppose. It feels difficult when you are working on several at a time! I made it through the first three books without event, but the fourth book was stubborn. Layers of paper stuck to the book board like warts on a toad. And each attempt to remove a snippet of the cover left my fingers raw right under my fingernails.
I was happy to finish all nine books in one afternoon, to be honest. My poor little fingers ached so badly by the time I was done. I think I can handle a lot, but when it comes to my fingers and toes, friends, I’m a baby.
But as I was struggling with that fourth book, the one who wouldn’t let go of its cover, I thought about how often we cling to our past when Christ is trying to free us of it and make us into something new. There are some, I’m sure, who think it sufficient to simply put a new cover on an old book. If you do this, any damage to the book, any scratch or spilled coffee, will reveal what is underneath. It’s not enough to put on new skin; we have to be removed of our old skin.
And this, of course, made me think of my number two favorite character in all of fiction (second only to Elizabeth Bennet), Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Eustace first appears in C.S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In this adventure, Eustace is turned into a dragon. He meets with Aslan, who tells him to “undress.” Eustace begins peeling away at his scales, shedding his skin like a snake, so he can rest in the pool in Aslan’s garden. Three times he tries to rid himself of himself, and he is unable to go deep enough. In the end, it is only Aslan who is able to remove the scales and make Eustace a boy again.
That’s what our salvation is like. We have a Savior who knows that we cannot be made new on our own effort, who waits patiently for us to stop trying so He can do the work necessary to redeem us, and who deals gently with us (even as it hurts) as He removes all that we once were.
I’m so thankful that we do not serve a God who is frustrated by the fourth journal, who never complains of the pain He endured to make us new, and who (quite unlike myself) leaves no trace of the old book.
May your day be filled with God’s grace, His love, and the peace of His rest.