I was reading some scripture this morning. The context is Habakkuk 2, where the prophet has asked God several questions and is waiting for an answer. In The Message Habakkuk said, “I’m braced for the worst.” I take that to mean that he’s nervous to hear God’s response to the honest rant he had in Chapter 1.
Verse 4 gives the answer: “Look at that man (or woman), bloated by self-importance – full of himself but soul empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.”
This idea of “right standing” takes me to several moments in CS Lewis’s Narnia series, which my daughter and I have been reading together. Those rare instances where characters come face to face with Aslan, the lion and God-figure, stand out. I think of Eustace Scrubb being stripped of his dragon exterior by Aslan’s claws. I think of Edmund in his talk with Aslan that nobody (not even the reader) gets to hear, but we all witness the notable change in demeanor. I think of when Jill Pole first meets the lion and asks him, “Are you going to eat me?” As I consider what right standing looks and feels like, the words “empty-handed” and “naked” come to mind. It is the image of complete vulnerability. There you are, with a lion several feet away, and you are completely at its mercy. What the reader begins to understand about Aslan throughout the series is that when characters come before Aslan in humility, there is no safer place to be. Confrontation with the lion is honest, sometimes painful, but always transformative in the best possible way. There is only one posture to assume before God and it is rightly falling before His feet aware of His ability to tear you apart. The perplexing thing is His response of care and tenderness. The baffling part is the twinkle in His eye and the laughter in His voice, not mocking but bubbling up with joy. The shocking part is that the core of this tremendous being is love and mercy for those in “right-standing.”
Right standing – utter humility. Before God – complete hope.
Now if you are the white witch or the ape or anything that stands in opposition to or feigned competition with the lion, that is an entirely diffferent response. For the vast majority of flawed characters, however, abundant life is offered and that is a delicious thought.