God Moves Suddenly, Not Quickly

February 11th, 2011

Hope Naomi wrote a piece recently about how God works. It got me thinking.

She brings out the concept of God working behind the scenes for what feels like an eternity before anything HAPPENS. But then, when God DOES do something, results are immediate. This concept of how God works is something I’ve thought about a lot myself.  I believe the reality is God is working all along, the fruit just not obvious to the bedraggled soul facing the daily grind keeping his head above water. 

The Bible is full of these types of stories and Hope mentions several. Joseph is another perfect example; perhaps my favorite Biblical narrative. In the case of Joseph, events were churning away behind the scenes for many years before the situation suddenly climaxed and a reversal of fortunes occurred. The same is true of the amazing story Esther.

Aslan both Slow & Quick in Prince Caspian

In C.S. Lewis’s tale of Prince Caspian (the movie version), Aslan (symbolic of God) does not enter to save the day when everyone wants him. In fact, quite the contrary: Aslan hasn’t even been sighted for generations! The Telmarines have taken over Narnia and the talking animals are in hiding, many of them reverted back to their unintelligent non-talking ways.  Cair Paravel, the royal castle of Narnia, is in ruins.

But there is a prophecy that one day the High Kings and Queens of old would return… But who believes that? Then, one day, they do! But instead of imposing figures, they’re only kids. And instead of things getting better with their arrival, the situation goes from bad to worse. I guess it’s like they say, “It’s always darkest before dawn.”  Soon it becomes clear that help from Aslan is sorely needed above and beyond the help four royal children can provide. 

The tragic moment comes when Caspian loses all faith in Aslan’s assistance and orders the Narnians to make a preemptive strike on the Telmarine stronghold. This ends in disaster, many of the Narnians are killed and many more captured. The captured are consequently murdered, their heads lobbed into the Narnians redoubt via trebuchet as a gruesome reminder of their folly.

Eventually Aslan does intervene, but is grieved by their lack of faith… because that is what he was looking for all along: Faith.

God Seeks Those Who Have Faith (Mark 5)

Hope mentioned the story of the woman with the issue of blood who suffered for twelve years before Jesus healed her illness in an instant. Coincidently, I was reading that last night and noticing how it is a story within a story, both revolving around this issue of faith.

Jesus is approached by a synagogue ruler named Jairus who pleads with Jesus to come heal his daughter, who is dying. Enroute, Jesus is approached by a sick woman who believes if only she touches the hem of his garment she would be healed. She does, and is. Jesus then stops and takes the time to identify her in the jostling crowd.

The woman confesses to Jesus what she did and, "trembling with fear, told him the whole truth." Jesus responds, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace, and be freed from your suffering." So this lady has faith.

Meantime, some men run up and notify Jairus his daughter is already dead, then add, "Why bother the teacher any more?"  Where are these men’s faith?? They clearly don’t believe Jesus is capable of raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead.  Jesus ignores them and instead tells Jairus, "Don’t be afraid; just believe."

When Jesus reaches the house he is laughed at by the mourners. So they don’t have much faith either. But Jairus did, and that is what counted. Jesus raised his daughter from the dead.

Isn’t it interesting how emotions of fear were mentioned in both cases? The woman was "trembling in fear," and Jairus was admonished to "not be afraid."

Closing Reflections

Perhaps an order of progression typical for Christians might be: Suffering mixed with questioning, fear mixed with faith, uncertainty mixed with belief, acts of obedience mixed with hesitancy, all resulting in healing mixed with freedom.

So why does God not always work when we want Him to (i.e. sooner)?  I don’t know, His timing is not mine.  But from what I understand of his attributes from the Bible, it is not for lack of power or knowledge that he refrains.

Prince Caspian

Since I brought up Prince Caspian, I want to point out two other observations of that movie:

  1. It espouses the idea God never works the same way twice (which I agree with) and
  2. towards the end of the flick there is a stunning sequence (great CG!) which symbolically depicts the awesome power of God (represented as Aslan).

A Clip From Prince Caspian the Movie

I found the clip I referred above on YouTube. This is my favorite scene from the movie and depicts the power Aslan heralds against the evil Telmarine leader by “the word of his mouth.”

"The other thing that is becoming more and more achievable are complex simulations. [ScanlineVFX] created the water god [seen at the end of the film]. It was a really masterful effect: to control water like that is incredibly difficult. They told us they’d been waiting do a shot like that for 10 years." Adamson recalls the earliest days of CG animation when water and fur were two of the hardest textures to simulate. "Now we have wet fur." (source)

3 Responses to “God Moves Suddenly, Not Quickly”

  1. Amanda Says:

    This concept was/is incredible!!
    At first I didn’t fully understand, but it’s been bouncing around my mind ever since I first read it. This reality of God’s character/personality has opened my eyes in awesome new ways. I “get” it!!
    This was convicting, concerning my trust and faith (or, lack thereof) in God, His Word, faithfulness, etc.
    Thank you for sharing!!!

  2. hope naomi Says:

    brilliant! and i love the chronicles of narnia reference…so true. have you read the last battle? aslan takes so long to show up it’s almost painful…but so so good when he does.

  3. nick Says:

    Amanda: thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post! and i appreciate your comment. i do wish I knew better why God works the way he does sometimes.

    Hope: it’s been a looong time since I read The Last Battle, I’ll have to dust it off again. it does seem God oft waits until long after a situation is “painful” like you say. guess C.S. Lewis was onto something there…

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