In the book Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Eustace (one of the main characters) gets himself turned into a dragon. Yes, it’s his fault. Too caught up in himself, his heart is revealed on the outside: he becomes a greedy, self-centered dragon. But one day he is mysteriously led up to a beautiful pool of water. He turns around, startled to find a huge Lion standing there. Suddenly he is so itchy. The Lion tells him to scratch, to take the dragon skin off. Eustace obeyed- why not? Snakes shed their skin…who was to say that dragons were any different? Aaiiieeeee! It hurt to remove. Ahh, but it felt better now. Well, better for a moment…. Now it itched again, worse than ever! Eustace ripped another layer of skin off, only to find the same thing underneath. Every layer of skin that he peeled off only revealed the same scaly, itchy skin beneath it. Then the Lion spoke. He told Eustace to let Him do it. Tentatively, Eustace lay down, exposing himself to the Lion’s sharp claws. The Lion reached out and pierced the dragon skin. Not as Eustace had done, put the Lion truly pierced the skin. All the way through. It was agonizing! But when He finished, Eustace realized that the skin had truly been removed. The Lion threw him into the pool. He was human again!
I could not help but think of this scene the past few months as I saw some very similar things going on in people around me. No, they didn’t turn into dragons and back again, but they still had a form of dragon skin. A sin or struggle that they could never entirely rid themselves of. We all have those things. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we remove the struggle, temptation, or sin, it comes back…it’s still there underneath. The girl who wanted to let go of the unhealthy relationship. Or the one who wanted to not fall back into depression. The one who wanted to let go of bitterness, and forgive. The one who was so hurt by people and lonely. We wish we could do better. It is so frustrating and discouraging! We want to obey God! We’re trying! But it just isn’t working! Argh!
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17 (NIV)
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:51 (NIV)
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)
Now, of the people I just mentioned, some of them succeeded and some are still struggling. As a friend puts it, the answer is: “It’s Jesus!” We can’t do this alone. We simply can’t reach deep enough or far enough to get the dragon skin off completely. It’s impossible. Only Jesus can do it. But to have Him remove it, that means that we have to expose ourselves to Him, to His claws. And we will never remain untouched by them. Giving one part of our life is not possible. If we choose God, we will have to give our whole selves to him. This is dangerous, right? But it is also so safe! It’s the best place we can be! Don’t you want to be free from the skin that is so itchy? Don’t get discouraged that it seems so impossible to get away from. Simply trust God. Expose yourself to His ‘claws,’ His truth, and light that pierces all darkness.
“Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:27 (NIV)
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
Your sister in Christ,