A Rat’s Eye View

A lot has happened since I blogged last. There was a royal wedding. The worst tornadoes in a hundred years left bloody scars on the Alabama landscape. Osama Bin Laden was  executed. And that was just since last week. Kind of makes you wonder what is going to happen next. If I lived near the sea, I might be afraid to take a walk on the shore for fear that a ten horned beast might rise out of the water.

Events like these expand the perspective of some people. Their eyes are opened to a wide horizon of need. They feel a greater sense of compassion and even a kind of wonder. But not me. My instinctive reaction is the opposite. I want to hunker down. I feel  myself receding into my own world. I feel smaller in the face of such great events and my world grows smaller with me. I watched the pageantry of the royal wedding and wished my church experience were a little more like that. Not the gown and the funny hats but the grandeur of the music and the sense of dignity reflected in the service. I listened to the reports of the execution of Osama Bin Laden and wondered why I didn’t feel bad for him. At the same time I wondered why I didn’t feel exhilarated enough to dance in the streets. Images of the rubble left by the last week’s storms flicker on my screen and I wonder why I don’t feel sadder.

Is it because I am shallow? Am I a narcissist? Yes, I suppose I am. The malady of sin has a way of making your world small. In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis portrayed Hell as a shrunken and shrinking realm where the damned soul is shut up in itself.  “Good beats upon the damned incessantly, but they cannot receive it” Lewis writes. “Their fists are clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes are fast shut.” Fortunately, God is greater than my small heart. “Only the greatest of all can make himself small enough to enter Hell.” Lewis explains. “For the higher a thing is, the lower it can descend-a man can sympathize with a horse but a horse cannot sympathize with a rat. Only one has descended into Hell.”

 That is to say, only one has descended into Hell and ascended again. Thanks be to God.

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Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

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