09 September 2012

Provincialism and Palaces

I was introduced to the work of George MacDonald years ago in a Christian literature class that changed my view of life. CS Lewis called MacDonald his "master." It was reading Phantastes that began Lewis's journey back to Christianity, "baptizing" his imagination, as he recalled.

Perhaps you've heard this allegory by MacDonald many times. I've heard it on several occasions. But I don't think it loses anything in the retelling.

Some recent experiences have turned my thoughts to it, and I've pondered on the truth of it, the calming truth that there is purpose even in pain. That no person is truly alone and uncared for. God knows who and where we are even when we do not. And He shows us He cares if we but lift our eyes and look around. We are in His hands, literally and figuratively. And He will not let us fail our potential.

Happy endings are not a fairy tale. And, if we let it be so, they can exceed our greatest imaginations.

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

"But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?

"The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

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