Closeness.

To be known and to be loved.

We all crave it more than anything, whether we are brave enough to admit it or not.

It’s part of the human condition, this longing for home and safety.

As Christians, we are told that there is no better place to satisfy this longing than in the presence of God, but in reality, a lot of times the presence of God feels more like a place of shame, so we hide, just like Adam and Eve when they were in the garden.

This idea of hiding got me thinking about this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawntreader. In the story, Lewis describes the process of regeneration, of shedding off our layers and revealing our true exposed skin before God.

The story tells the tale of Eustace, a boy who has become a dragon after masking his needs with the pleasures of the world. In becoming a dragon, he weeps in isolation until Aslan (the Christ image) appears and leads the dragon to a well in a garden on top a mountain and when Eustace sees the water, aching to get in and be refreshed and soothed. But Aslan tells him he must be undressed first.

Eustace begins to peel off his own scales with his claws only to discover that there are more and more dried and worn layers lying underneath. He becomes discouraged realizing that he will never be able to shed this skin on his own.

And then Aslan the lion says to him: “You will have to let me undress you,”

Though Eustace was fearful of the pain, he was desperate for the cure, and so he lied on the ground waiting for the claws to make the first gash.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. . . . Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off — just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt — and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.” 

To be seen requires us to take off the masks and all the layers before we can jump into the sweet, sweet waters. We must be brave enough to lean into Jesus, and to let his word that is sharper than a double edge sword pierce into and through our facades to open up wounds that we have half heartedly healed through our man made bandages. We must come out of hiding and open up our loosely stitched wounds so that Christ’s grace and mercy can seep deep underneath and seal them to be fully whole.

Undress all the layers.

Let Christ see you as you are.

Let him cut into all the wounds.

It will burn. It will hurt.

But it will be worth it to splash in the healing waters of his mercy and compassion.

“Then he caught hold of me — I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me . . . in new clothes.”