Naked in the presence of God

Written by on October 6, 2008 in Notes By The Way with 8 Comments

The past few years I’ve been in a process of unlearning many things.

I grew up going to church and immersed in Christian religion. I was taught (or perceived) that more knowledge — and especially the right knowledge — was the key to becoming a better follower of Jesus. Knowledge plus willingness and effort, that is. I was sincere, and I went for it. I made amazing discoveries, and I was excited about my faith. But after years of living this way, I found myself having increasing layers of knowledge, ideas, plans and programs, but less and less authentic knowledge of God. There was more of me and less of God; although I didn’t see it that way (because when you live a pretense you get good at it).

Businessman: You’ve got a banana in your ear.
The other fellow: What?
Businessman: You’ve got a banana in your ear!
The other fellow: Talk louder, I’ve got a banana in my ear!

Anthony De Mello, Awareness, p.9

In The Chronicles of Narnia (Book 3, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), there’s a wonderful scene where Eustace (an unbearably self-centered boy) discovers the cave of a dying dragon. The cave is full of treasures, and he imagines how rich and powerful he’ll be if he could have it all. He falls asleep dreaming of being a dragon, and he wakes up to find that he has been transformed into one (not a good thing as it turns out).

The things that we crave eventually shape us — even to the extent that we may not be able to recognize or bear the sight of ourselves. Eustace, the dragon, eventually encounters Aslan (a huge lion who represents God). Aslan takes him to a pool of clean water, sinks a very long claw deep into Eustace’s dragon skin, and peels it off. It’s excruciatingly painful for Eustace and such a relief at the same time. Then Aslan flings Eustace (the boy now) into the clean water.

I feel like Eustace, like I’ve been having my dragon skin removed (but slowly). As the skin falls away, I discover I’m smaller and weaker and lacking things and qualities that gave me a sense of control and power before. Some of the thickest layers of my dragon skin came from my mastery of Christian religion, beliefs, and practices. Without my dragon skin, I’m like a child in the presence of God with nothing to prove my worth, faith, or significance. The discomfort that I feel tells me I’m vulnerable and insecure, unless the huge lion (Aslan/God) is the embodiment of Love. Then when I simply enjoy this wonderful freedom in the presence of God, my naked and humbled condition displays God’s love as a reality, better than my words ever could.

What does this really look like? Here’s one example. When I take volunteers to Cambodia, I’m a participant. Each trip is an exciting journey. I’m not trying to perform, finish a project, or add a shiny new layer to myself (although I admit I’ve got those foolish habits, but they don’t have much power over me anymore once I recognize them). In the past, I would have felt a tremendous urgency to lead the way and produce results. Now I want see the love of God (and I do, not every moment, but often enough) and go with it. And the more I become one with the Spirit of Love, the more I trust God with the results.

Jump in the water’s fine. šŸ˜‰

About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .

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  • Audrey

    Iā€™m like a child in the presence of God with nothing to prove my worth, faith, or significance.
    Andy you are fulfilling the only requirement needed to enter the Kingdom. Unless we are openminded and have open hearts we will not even SEE the kingdom. Keep going, dig deeper and uncover the treasure within you.

  • Yes, the peeling was painful, but looking back, worth every bit of it. Good post, Andy. I’ll be back for more!

    Love…

  • Audrey,
    Yes, I will.

    Bruce,
    Thanks — I checked out Boldgrace.com and bookmarked you all. What an interesting group of people!

  • “The things that we crave eventually shape us ā€” even to the extent that we may not be able to recognize or bear the sight of ourselves” Powerful! This being the case, I just wanna crave whatever God is craving. Glad I found you!

  • Unless you become as a little child….

  • david

    but what is the essential after the dragon skin is peeled off?

  • David, what are you thinking it is?

  • Liked this post! Beautiful.

    You might be interested in my site, http://www.presencevoicetouch.com, a site dedicated to helping people connect with the presence, voice, and touch of Jesus Christ.

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