Friday, June 21, 2013

Things Never Happen the Same Way Twice

Often, we have two fears about the future:

  • That something horrible we’ve been through before will happen again. (“It’s going to be just like last time!”)  
  • That something wonderful we’ve experienced will never happen again. (“It will never be the same!”)
If we actually stopped to think about it more often, we’d realize we’re trying to have our chocolate cake and eat it too!

In the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (see a clip below!), Lucy seems disappointed as she asks Aslan, “Why couldn’t you come roaring in to save us like last time?”

Aslan responds with the wisest of words: “Things never happen the same way twice, dear one.”

My family quotes Aslan more than probably any other book/movie character ever. Often times, I’ll recall this quote as comfort when something doesn’t happen the way I expected it to.

I was hoping it would be just like last year’s vacation.

I thought I’d get through this semester easily . . . like last time!

Then I remember Aslan. Things never happen the same way twice. It’s ok. That’s just how life works.

But the other day as I was bike riding with my family, I realized that it’s not just a comforting phrase. It’s a promise.

My bike ride tantrum

I didn’t want to go biking that day. I actually threw a full-fledged temper tantrum about it. (Ok—not quite. But I felt like it!) I went with my family because that’s what families do. But I was NOT looking forward to it. And I made sure everyone knew it.
Last time, my bike seat was too hard and I was sore for days after the ride. I also got so tired that I couldn’t even keep up with my parents. (Lame, I know!) Plus, the last time we had gone biking was when my boyfriend, James, was visiting. In my opinion, he had been the only good thing about that otherwise painful bike ride. He had encouraged me to keep going. He had even literally pushed me along a couple of times when I’d been tired and falling behind! Going without him meant not only misery, but also memories that would make me miss him all the more!

But I was wrong. Yes, that second bike ride brought back lots of memories. Yes, I missed him. But my mom switched bikes with me, and I didn’t end up sore. James wasn’t there to keep me going, but this time, I was fine on my own. The weather was much warmer and more pleasant this time. We even got to stop at Sweet Frog, a frozen yogurt place that hadn’t been open the first time.

It was the same route, the same ride, but it didn’t happen the same way twice.

Why God doesn't tell us the future (and why we wouldn't want to know)

See, life tends to go in cycles. History tends to repeat itself. Things happen again. The longer we live, the more we start to see the patterns that surround us in everyday life. The more we come to believe that things DO happen the same way twice. And thrice. And again and again.

That’s where we get it a little confused. Yes, things happen again. We fail another test. We get in another car wreck. A family member or spouse disappoints us again. There’s another bad diagnosis. Another hurricane. Another death. Things happen twice. But they never happen the same way twice.

When I look at the future, it scares me to think that next winter I’ll struggle with seasonal depression—just like last time. Next time James visits, he’ll have to leave, and I’ll be sad for days—just like last time.

But it WON’T be just like last time!

God doesn’t allow us to know exactly what the future holds, for the simple reason that we worrywarts probably couldn’t handle it!

If we knew for certain that everything would only ever happen as it has before, there would be no possibility for change or improvement. There would be no hope. Personally, I’m not ready to live in a world without hope.

The truth of Aslan’s words give us hope. No, this time won’t be the same as last time. You’ll experience different emotions, have a different support group, and have different experiences under your belt. Maybe you’re wiser now. More prepared.

And maybe, just maybe, this time, your Aslan WILL come roaring in and deliver you from all your trials. But if he doesn’t, take comfort in knowing that He is walking through them with you.

Putting Jesus in your future

In William Paul Young’s novel The Shack, Jesus says to the main character, Mack, “I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?”

I don’t remember much else about the book—I read it several years ago. But this one quote has stuck with me ever since I first read it.

Don’t try to imagine your future. But if you must, imagine Aslan—Jesus—there with you. He makes the difference. He ensures that things never happen the same way twice.

And for that, we can be eternally thankful.

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~Matthew 28:20

For more on the Chronicles of Narnia, check out my post Love...Isn't Safe.

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