One of my favourite quotes from C.S.Lewis's The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe comes when the children enquire about the nature of Aslan, they want to know if he is safe;
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."
I've been pondering it as I ponder the commitment to discipleship we Methodists make through our Covenant Prayer in our annual Covenant Services. As we move through the service we are called to remember the covenant relationship we have with God and to recall his promises towards us, we are also reminded that those promises require a response from us, and as such we make our Covenant Prayer which begins with the powerful words:
"I am no longer my own but yours..."
To declare ourselves as belonging to another is a statement of trust, and one that might well draw from us the question "is he safe?" the answer is simple; Of course he isn't safe, not at all safe, but he is good....
I have to conclude that he is not safe because he continually calls us beyond our comfort zones, but he is good because he promises to supply us with all we need as we dare to follow him...
He is not safe because rather than protecting us from difficulties and pains he walks with us through them and even challenges us to grow and learn by them....
He is not safe for he does not call us to an easy road of comfort and ease, but a road of adventure whose surprising twists and turns demand that we redouble our efforts to rely upon him. When we do, even though as the Psalmist reminds us we might find ourselves walking through life's darker valleys he is there with us to comfort us, and he leads us to places of rest when we need it though the images of green pastures and still waters are not filled with the worldly comforts we might crave.
He is not safe, but he is good, and in all things he will work in us so that we become more the people we are called to be, for he sees in us more than we could ever see in ourselves, he draws us beyond our limited visions and dreams into wide and wild open spaces...
To crave safety limits us, at least to crave what we call safety limits us, for with him we are in many ways safer than we can imagine, for he reveals himself to us in the one who calmed the storm, the one who walked on the waters ( both of which are images of chaos). He reveals himself to us in the one who did not hold back from the cross, and who overcoming death invites us to participate in his glorious resurrection life.
The challenge comes when as we pray "I am no longer my own but yours" we have to be aware that the road might take us into a Holy Saturday experience of waiting and praying, and that to get to that Holy Saturday place we might, no, we will have to die to ourselves in whatever way he calls us. But he is good, he is the one who so often invites us to find the treasures of depth and new-found joy even in the darkest places....
He is not safe, well not as we might understand it anyway, but he is good, and it is with that assurance we pray:
'I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours
So be it.
And the Covenant now made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven AMEN.'