It’s time for some serious scab-picking. Yup, gross. Stick with me.
The nicest visualization I can think of comes from C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of The Dawn Treader. Eustace Scrubb, a most annoying, spoiled boy has managed to become a dragon. I know, right? If you don’t know how that easily that could happen, please read the book.
On the last night before everyone else will be forced to leave him behind, Eustace finds himself confronted by a lion. Not just any lion, mind you, it’s Aslan himself. Aslan tells him that he must scrape off the dragon skin to become a boy again. Eustace takes his dragon claws and scrapes. It hurts a little; but continuing on, he eventually steps out and sees a full, ugly, scaly dragon skin lying on the ground. What a relief! But, wait! He catches his reflection in a pool and – he’s still a dragon! He starts scraping again; this time it’s deeper and more painful, with an even nastier skin left behind. He looks into the pond again and despairs to see a dragon still looking back at him.
Finally, Aslan moves forward. He gently offers to do the scraping, but warns that it will hurt even more than before. Eustace agrees. And C. S. Lewis describes an agonizing ordeal that burns and aches, rendering the boy tender and exposed to the core. Then Aslan scoops him up and tosses him into the water which first burns, then cools and soothes. When Eustace emerges, he is a boy again.
(Seriously, go to your library, find the book and read this passage. It’s moving. The movie did a fair job with the effects on this scene; but it’s still better in the book.)
God’s been moving in my heart in good and painful ways. There are scaly layers of pain, grime and the crust of the world on me. It took me finally facing my dragonness to fully acknowledge that I needed to scrape away these layers. But in my feeble strength, I only flicked away a surface layer of filth. It hurt. A little. Perhaps my pride was most wounded. Trying harder did little more.
Now, by faith, with prayer, I give up. It’s time to allow God to do the scraping. It’s agony at times. I keep wanting to take the job back on myself. I do pull away and have to submit yet again to what hurts but ultimately brings healing. Hopefully in the future I will find the boldness to share more of this story.
Where are you? Do you find yourself still comfortable where you are? Are you trying to clean yourself up in your own strength? Or are you with me in the agonizing pulling away of dead flesh, waiting for the newness to come? No matter where you are in the process, your strength is not enough. Turn to God and ask him to help you.