I will begin with an odd circumstance, one that describes a literary and real world juxtaposition, and then go on to discuss the kind of thing it does not mean.
After that, if you are good, we will address the import of what it does in fact mean. And this will have particular relevance to those of you who are being tempted to get discouraged about the number of clowns that are tumbling out of our massive clown car parade. We said we wanted to go to the circus. We never said we wanted to live at the circus.
But I have veered off the point, which you are generally supposed to avoid in introductions. I promised a literary juxtaposition to an event in real time, and so we will get to that in a moment. We know that things are pretty grim right now, but a word is available to encourage those of us who are in the thick of it. But nothing is gained by lying to ourselves about how things are. God is the one who delivers, not the one who helps us whistle vanities in the dark. We need to face facts first, and after that He shows us the way out.
“Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.”
Psalm 60:3 (KJV)
The Juxtaposition First
I was driving into town last Saturday to pick up the mail, and I was listening—yet again—to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was at the part where the witch realizes that spring had arrived and was going to undo her everlasting winter. The snow was melting, and the dwarf was having trouble keeping the sledge going, and the witch was furious at the prospect of Aslan returning.
Just then, I was driving under some fir branches, and a load of snow slipped off the tree and fell into the road, just ahead of me. Nothing too remarkable there. This happens in places where it snows, like it does here. Happens all the time. But about one second later, as in a “one one thousand” count later, the narrator in the book said this . . .
“And then, as he looked at one tree he saw a great load of snow slide off it and for the first time since he had entered Narnia he saw the dark green of a fir tree.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Now this is the kind of thing that should make you laugh out loud, or say huh, or roll the window down to sing psalms, or anything along those lines.
I mean, I saw something happen through my windshield. And then providence, in the very same breath, provided me with a happenstance narration of that event. Only it was not happenstance. Obviously not.
What It Did Not Mean
Now if I were to take it as a sign that I should go run off and do something specific, then I would be outrunning my own headlights. For example, if I were to think, “this means that I should mail that letter I was thinking about . . .” I would be arbitrarily assigning my very own meaning to an unusual event, and I would have no warrant for making any such assignment. I am not in charge of that kind of thing. I am not a prophet. Messages should come from outside, not from inside. Messages from beyond particularly should come from, you know, beyond. And whatever else they are, my gut feelings are not beyond.
We must be careful, because the human mind is designed to detect patterns, and it does this task admirably well, whether the patterns are there or not. Sometimes we impose patterns on things that really are random. Sometimes we ascribe remarkable import to mundane patterns, like the sun rising again. Other times we see a true pattern, but lug in a meaning for the pattern that it does not have. And other times, like this time, the pattern shouts at us—through my windshield, and through the speakers in my truck.
But Surely It Does Mean Something
And the answer is yes, it surely does mean something. But what exactly?
It means what we believers already know as a theological truth, which is that God is the author of all our stories. But this is extra—as an accomplished writer, He sometimes breaks the fourth wall, and winks at the reader. One minute I was just driving down the road, minding my own business, and taking everything for granted like some schlub Christian, and the next moment the author of all our stories delivered that brisk little fillip to my forehead. When an author breaks the fourth wall, he doesn’t have to say anything momentous. He simply has to remind us that he—and in this case, He—is there.
This is no esoteric thing, hidden away. It is hidden, but hidden like Poe’s purloined letter, hidden in plain sight. It means the same thing that a falcon’s eye does. It means the same thing that sunflower seeds arranged in the flower according to the Fibonacci sequence does. It means the same thing that the high end engineering that went into the human wrist does. It means the same thing that the Mandelbrot set does. It means the same thing that a stack of cumulus clouds over an Arizona mesa does, right near sunset.
It means that we are not here by chance. It means that God freely and unalterably ordains whatsoever comes to pass, and yet, in such a way as to offer no violence to the liberty of the creature. It means that when God writes a book, all the characters are three dimensional, and really come alive. But we are not alive in a random concatenation of events, we are alive in a story.
It means that God, the author of this story, is present in everything. In Him, we live and move and have our being.
So Take Heart, Friend
The White Witch ruled Narnia for a hundred years. Always winter and never Christmas. She had a lot of power, and everything seemed hopeless, beyond hopeless. Fighting her was futile. The way it was yesterday will have to be the way that it will necessarily be tomorrow. Everything is grim and dark and gray and stripped, fading off into bleak in every direction. That means we might as well give up, right?
Not a bit of it. It actually means that God is not a lousy author. He loves to write nail biters, and His nail biters are way better than the ones we write. When we write a cliff hanger, this makes the reader stay up late, frantically flipping pages, and perhaps even peeking at the last pages to see if everybody is still alive. But when God writes one, the readers go through that experience, whoever they are, and the characters—that would be us—experience the same thing. Are we even going to make it?
“For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.
2 Cor. 1:8–9 (KJV)
Or as Chesterton once said, the one taste of paradise on earth is to fight in a losing cause, and then not lose. And here is Chesterton another time.
“Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”
Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
When you ask yourself what kind of world your grandchildren are going to grow up in, the answer is that they are going to grow up in the same kind of world that you did. The world is fallen, and broken, and there are dragons to fight. But every detail of every battle is written by the finger of God.
You say that Big Tech has algorithms that track every key stroke? But that is an omniscience made out of three feet of brown wrapping paper, after it has been wadded up. God is the omniscient one. God is the one who knows every blink of every eye, the position and velocity of all the atoms in every one of Jupiter’s moons, the flight path of every meadowlark, the number of seconds that Joe Biden has left on this earth, and how many hairs there are on the back of that stray yellow dog.
What about their aspirations to omnipotence? Our globalists, our pretenders to the throne, our vaunted lords of the earth, are like a child in a plastic car that is part of a ride at the county fair. The steering wheel is there, and the child gets to turn it this way and that way, and can feel very grown up and self-important—but the car still rides on the rails appointed. Hamlet spoke a wisdom that is far beyond these petulant children when he said, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.” God is the Almighty one, and He is the only Almighty one. It does not matter how many impudent sinners puff out their chests and announce their plans to throw snowballs at the sun, or rocks at the moon. The one in Heaven laughs, He holds them in derision. Now if He holds them in derision, and we are His sons and daughters, shouldn’t we laugh also? Dutiful children always laugh when their father laughs.
But omnipresence is the true comfort. This is because God is everywhere present, but this does not mean that God is stretched out over the cosmos, with a little part of Him everywhere. No, the doctrine of omnipresence means that all of God is in every place. And for the Christian, this ever-present God, this all-in God, is a Father. He is a Father, and He is a good Father. He is not domesticated, and He doesn’t fit in with any of the current globalist plans, and so much the worse for those globalist plans.
These aspirational deities can put cameras at every intersection, and they can record every phone conversation, and they can listen in to casual conversations when nobody was on the phone and target you with ads accordingly, and they can shadow ban anyone who started to tweet anything that made sense. They can do all that. They can be as creepy as they want to be, which is pretty creepy, but at the end of the day, they still don’t have what it takes. They will never have what it takes. These are not gods. They are not the future. They are not even gods that rise to the level of the Marvel franchise. Nietzsche once dreamed of an Übermensch—but what he got was a pre-Elon Twitter corp staffed with thousands of pajama boys.
So this is the lesson I draw from snow falling off branches. God is in control. God loves His children, and He will undertake on their behalf. He always has, and He always will. But He also steers His children into great troubles so that they might learn the invaluable lesson of trusting, not in themselves, but in God who raises the dead.
How then should we react when the next outrage is announced? You know that there is going to be a fresh outrage, probably later today. What should you listen for? You should listen for the words that Aslan said to Lucy that one time. “Courage, dear heart.”