Aslan, he isn’t safe, but he is good.
When I first saw the prompt this week for Sunday Scribblings, I thought how “good” is such a good adjective. But I thought that many people would write about that. So I made a list of movies with “good” in their title. Then I thought of the duality of “good vs evil”, as in two sides of the same coin. There are many philosophies on goodness, how we place value on good, why we are good (or not so good), why some in a society are good while others, for the sake of their own ‘good,’ hurt others of different ethnic races, etc., etc. And then, the stories of goodness came to me, such as “The Good Samaritan” who helped a man in need, even though it wasn’t culturally appropriate; and the story of Creation, where at the end of each day, God saw his creation and said it was “good”. And, I remembered the saying, “He is not safe, but He is good” from the Chronicles of Narnia. The following passage is from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, the first in the series of stories from “The Chronicles of Narnia”, by C. S. Lewis:
“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood…”
"Is -- is he a man?" asked Lucy.
"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"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."
Scott Stiegemeyer in his blog about Aslan, who is a type of Christ, wrote: “Jesus is not a tame God. He is not safe, but He is good…. Many of us don't want a Savior, we want a therapist. We don't want an Incarnate God, we want feel-good spirituality. We don't want a cross, we want self-realization. We don't want Jesus, we want ourselves.”
In today’s society, we want to feel safe, and we want to feel good. Safety is something that I have never let run my life. When traveling in Mexico in 1979, a group of American duck hunters gave me a ride. I asked if it was safe to send a package from Merida to the United States. One of the men said, “Safe? Safe! Here you are hitchhiking around Mexico by yourself and you ask if it is safe to send a package!” And in outdoor sports, safety is always an issue, so we take safety precautions. But to say that climbing or skiing isn’t safe, would not stop me from doing it. I guess it all depends on perspective. I wouldn’t be caught dead jumping out of an airplane, or off a cliff or bridge, with a parachute or other flying device. I don’t consider them safe. And, I think that of many of my outdoor adventures probably weren’t safe in many people’s eyes, and definitely not in my mother’s eyes. (It was better if I just didn’t tell her). Were they good? Most definitely! For me, safety is not the issue. It is the friendships, and the fellowship that is more important. I have climbed Mt. Hood five times. I love Mt. Hood. Every climb has been different. Every climb has been with different people. Is it safe? We take every safety precaution that we can. We can’t predict the weather, or Mother Nature. Is it safe? Because of the precautions we take, I believe that we are safe, but I can’t predict the future. Is it good? Most definitely! I have made many good friends over the years hiking, and climbing. And have many great stories to tell. Maybe the more thrilling the activity was, the better the stories. Maybe they weren’t always so safe, but they were good.
As a physical therapist, safety is a big issue. When patients are returning home, will they be safe? When teaching students, the biggest criteria we have in passing them is, “will they be safe with a patient?” We all want safety. And then, by assessing a patient or student as ‘safe’, we are, in essence, saying that they are good.
But there is more to life than safety, as Lucy and Susan point out in The Chronicles of Narnia. Mark Bertrand, in his blog says, "A good book is not safe because it threatens false assumptions and complacency and the little fantasies we construct to conceal the reality all around us. A good book, like a good God, is a dangerous thing to those who have reason to fear." What it all comes down to is this: by what standard do we measure ‘good’? There is only one standard by which we measure ‘good’, and that is from where it first came: God. He created everything. At the end of each day of creation, He saw that it was “good”. On the sixth day, He saw all that He had made, and it was ‘very good’.
Kendall Payne in her song about Aslan says,
“Lay down your layers, shed off your skin
But without his incision you can’t enter in
He cuts deep, yeah he cuts deep
When the risk is great and the talk is cheap
But never leaves a wounded one behind.”
We have a good God. He isn’t safe, but He is good.