No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
The major problem in most of our spiritual lives is that we either don’t believe the above scripture at all or we only halfway believe it when it becomes necessary, like when we are in trouble or at the end of ourselves. Then we timidly hope that it might be true if we have been good enough. This is why I love this passage from C. S. Lewis’s book The Horse and His Boy, for Shasta, the main character in the book finds himself at the end of his abilities and is feeling quite sorry for himself. Put yourself in Shasta place as you read the following:
“And being very tired and having nothing inside him, (Shasta) felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.”
What put a stop to all of this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.
It darted into his mind that he had heard long ago that there were giants in these Northern countries. He bit his lip in terror. But now that he really had something to cry about, he stopped crying.
The Thing (unless it was a person) went on beside him so very quietly that Shasta began to hope that he had only imagined it. But just as he was becoming quite sure of it, there suddenly came a deep, rich sigh out of the darkness beside him. That couldn’t be imagination! Anyway, he has felt the hot breath of that sigh on his chilly left hand.
If the horse had been any good – or if he had known how to get any good out of the horse – he would have risked everything on a breakaway and a wild gallop. But he knew he couldn’t make that horse gallop. So, he went on at a walking pace and the unseen companion walked and breathed beside him. At last he could bear it no longer.
“Who are you?” he said, barely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you – are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world.”
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so, he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. and then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the Tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had anything to eat.
“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion.” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two lions the first night, and -”
“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.
The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. This must have begun to happen some time ago, but while he had been talking to the Thing, he had not been noticing anything else. Now, the whiteness around him became a shining whiteness; his eyes began to blink. Somewhere ahead he heard birds singing. He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite clearly now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun.
He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than a horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or more beautiful.
Luckily Shasta had lived all of his life too far south in Calormen to have heard the tales that were whispered in Tashbaan about a dreadful Narnian demon that appeared in the form of a lion. And of course, he knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after one glance at the Lion’s face he slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.
The High King above all kings stooped towards him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mantle, was all around him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing.”
How many times have we missed God’s presence for the same reasons as Shasta, where we were too self-absorbed in our own issues or concerns? How many times do we take credit for Your work in the world we live in? How many times have we been too afraid to even look at Him as he walks beside us? He is always present….it is us who are blind or too distracted, or too afraid to see Him.
Holy Father, the Great I Am,
Forgive us for our blindness and our overpowering desire to be in control at all times. Help us to see you in small and beautiful ways. Teach us to feel your breath and open our ears to the rest of creation as it sings your praise.
Upcoming February Events
15th // Practicing Presence Seminar
26th // Ash Wednesday
28th-29th // IF: Women’s Conference
Practicing Presence: Immersing Yourself in Him and Others
There are still spots available for this Saturday’s seminar- Practicing Presence: Immersing Yourself in Him and Others. We know this time of year can feel really “full”. The busyness of the holiday season is over, but is replaced by all the “new” things we add to our plates in the new year. From 9am-12pm, we want to provide a space to slow down and be encouraged in how to slow our pace to live wholehearted and connected to God, ourselves, and others. We invite you to join us. Registration closes tonight, and there is limited space available, so register now! You can click here to register. Childcare reimbursement is available if needed, contact Terri Pease at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
IF: Women’s Simulcast Conference
At the IF: Women’s Conference, we will gather on the evening of Friday February 28 and Saturday morning and afternoon on the 29th at Alamo Heights Baptist Church. Registration is $50, which includes dinner on Friday, a light breakfast and lunch on Saturday and snacks throughout! We will watch a simulcast of IF speakers, worship together, and enjoy yummy meals with one another! Feel free to contact Terri at email@example.com if you have any questions. To sign up you can click here.
Foster Adopt Month of Love
The month of February is the “Month of Love.” As such, we’re inviting parishioners to volunteer to send “love” notes of prayer and encouragement to foster families in San Antonio. We did this last year and were floored by the response, so we are looking forward to doing so again.
Prayers and notes of encouragement will be sent to foster/adoptive families across San Antonio, demonstrating the love of God for them and inviting parishioners to intercede on their behalf. It also gives parishioners a tangible way to “care for the orphaned” as we are called to do.
Sign up at theparksa.org/fosterlove
You can email the Foster/Adopt Ministry team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for other volunteer opportunities.
Men’s Monthly Prayer Nights
The men’s prayer group for Midtown meets on the third Thursday of the month and the Mac Terrace group meets on the third Friday of the month. These are parish specific prayer meetings. To receive more information from a parish pastor, you can click here.