DEVOTIONAL DAILY

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From Dragon to Boy

by Jim Burgen, from No More Dragons

The story takes place in a magical world called Narnia, and it’s about a boy named Eustace* and a few of his friends. Eustace is arrogant, selfish, unfriendly, and generally disliked by almost every other character in the story. During their travels throughout the vast world of Narnia, the children run the ship ashore on a mysterious island. Eustace wanders off by himself and ends up stumbling upon a cave containing a dragon’s hoard of treasure.

Eustace, who is a greedy kid, realizes he could be as rich as a king in Narnia if he keeps the treasure for himself. Exhausted from the excitement of discovering the dragon’s riches, Eustace falls asleep on top of the towering stack of crowns, jewels, and gold coins. When Eustace wakes up the next morning, he has been transformed into a dragon. He sees his reflection in a lake and realizes he is nothing but a monster: “Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”¹

In Narnia, if you think dragon thoughts and do dragon things, eventually you will become a dragon.

Eustace is no longer a chubby little boy. He is a monster. He isn’t who he used to be. He isn’t who he wants to be. He’s not who he was created and designed to be. The only friends he has are now terrified of him. Eustace is a dragon.

I was sitting on the edge of my front-row seat in a university classroom, listening to a country preacher tell a story about a boy in an imaginary world who turned into a mythical dragon, and my chest started to feel tight. My heart started to beat faster. I had tears in my eyes. He was telling my story. This story was about me.

Becoming a dragon is a dangerously sneaky process. Becoming a dragon takes a long string of bad choices and decisions you don’t even realize you’re making until it’s too late. One day you glance at yourself in the mirror, and a monster is staring back at you. You think back on your life, add up your countless mistakes, and realize you aren’t who you used to be. You aren’t who you want to be. You’re not who you were created and designed to be. Instead, you’re a dragon.

As I sat in that classroom in East Tennessee, I came to a realization: it was not difficult to screw up my life. But how would I ever unscrew it? The nineteen-year-old boy in Tennessee had the same problem as the little boy in Narnia: I knew I didn’t want to be a dragon anymore, but I didn’t know how to stop.

Back to the Narnia story. Eustace sadly walks into the forest. He is alone, confused, and defeated. He has resigned himself to the fact that he will always be a dragon and there is no hope for change. This is precisely when he meets Aslan, the talking lion. For those of you who are not familiar with C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan represents Jesus in these stories.

Aslan looks Eustace in the eyes and beckons to him. Fearful yet strangely compelled, Eustace follows the huge lion to a mountaintop garden. Standing by a well of clear water, Aslan instructs the boy-turned-dragon to undress.

At first Eustace is confused, because he isn’t wearing any clothes. But then he remembers that he’s a giant lizard, and all reptiles can shed their skin. So Eustace tries to free himself. He painfully tears away at his layer of scales, but underneath is another layer. He begins ripping into the new layer, but underneath is yet another layer. He continues to repeat this process until he is absolutely exhausted from the pain. He simply can’t do it anymore and whimpers to Aslan in defeat.

Aslan replies, “You will have to let me undress you.”²

Back in Tennessee, I had ceased breathing ten minutes prior. I was more aware than ever that the story was not about a little boy in a fantasy world called Narnia. The story was, without a doubt, written about me. I didn’t want to be a dragon anymore, but I couldn’t fix myself. I needed to have Jesus do it for me.

In the story, Eustace reluctantly and fearfully agrees to let Aslan shed his scales. He lies down on his dragon back, and Aslan plunges his enormous claws into Eustace’s chest. The pain is unbearable. Finally, the lion reaches deep into the chest cavity of the dragon and pulls out a small, trembling boy who is dripping with filth.

Aslan then throws Eustace’s pale body into the waters of the well, and in a few moments, Eustace breaks the surface of the water and gasps for air. He is no longer a dragon. He is finally the boy he was created to be. He is washed, clean, changed, and made whole. His friends are no longer scared of him. In fact, when his friend Edmund sees Eustace, he exclaims, “You have been — well, un-dragoned.”³

When Tommy finished telling the story, I had tears streaming down my face. I needed to be washed, cleaned, changed, and made whole. And I knew there was only one person who could do that for me. I then uttered the prayer that changed my entire life:
Dear Father, if you can un-dragon me, you can have my whole life.
I wish I could say I never again did anything that dragons do, but that’s not true. I can tell you that my life gradually began to change after I bumped into Jesus in that classroom in East Tennessee. God changed me through a story written by a dead English theologian about a fantasy world where little boys can become dragons and then, with the help of a giant lion, become little boys again.

As Jesus started to strip the scales from my back, I began wanting different things for my life. I started thinking about different stuff. I wanted to learn more about the loving, gracious, holy yet approachable God and his Son who came to earth. I desired to know this Jesus, who wanted to tell me he loved me despite the things I had done instead of lecture me about what a disappointment I was. I finally saw that, in spite of the long list of reasons God could hate me, He didn’t. He not only loved me, but He wanted us to live together — me with Him and Him with me. He wanted to change my life, not just after my funeral in some far-off place called Heaven, but right then and there and every moment after.

God had been tapping on my shoulder for quite some time. Hey, Jim. Hey, Jim. Hey, Jim! My reply to His faint call had consistently been, “Go away!” But on that day in Tennessee, God didn’t tap me on the shoulder. He hit me over the side of the head with a two-by-four and shouted, Jim, will you just talk to Me?

“What? What do You want?”

I want you. I want all of you.

Read the rest on this story on our blog!

Excerpted with permission from No More Dragons by Jim Burgen, copyright James M. Burgen.

* Eustace Clarence Scrubb is a fictional character in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. He appears in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he is accompanied by Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, his cousins.

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Your Turn

Do you have a similar story of Jesus wooing you, tapping you on the shoulder, un-dragoning you, and calling you out for something bigger? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you about how you screwed up your life and Jesus is in the process of unscrewing it! ~ Devotionals Daily

COMMENT

Feeling Small Our Daily Bread

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What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:4

READ MATTHEW 6:25–32

 

LISTEN ONLINE

 

Many movie critics consider David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia one of the greatest films of all time. With its seemingly endless vistas of the Arabian deserts, it has influenced a generation of filmmakers—including Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg. “I was inspired the first time I saw Lawrence,” said Spielberg. “It made me feel puny. It still makes me feel puny. And that’s one measure of its greatness.”

What makes me feel small is creation’s vastness—when I gaze at an ocean, fly over the polar ice cap, or survey a night sky sparkling with a billion stars. If the created universe is so expansive, how much greater must be the Creator who spoke it into being!

God’s greatness and our feelings of insignificance are echoed by David when he declares, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:4 nlt). But Jesus assures us, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

I may feel small and insignificant, but through my Father’s eyes, I have great worth—a worth that is proven every time I look at the cross. The price He was willing to pay to restore me to fellowship with Him is evidence of how He values me.

By Bill Crowder

REFLECT & PRAY

Father, help us to remember Your heart is for us. Read The Surprising Side of God at discoveryseries.org/q0213.

What wonder of creation draws your attention to God? How does it impact you to know how much your Creator values you?

 

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SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Our passage today continues Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and is a subsection of the major theme considered in chapter 6—“the Christian walking and living in this world, in his relationship to the Father” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount). But while the earlier subsection (vv. 19-24) deals with the danger of laying up and hoarding the treasures of this earth, this portion is concerned with our worrying or being anxious about material things. Some believe the first passage addresses the rich, while today’s addresses the poor or those who struggle to make ends meet. But it’s also possible for the rich to be obsessed with worry over material things. No matter how we look at these texts, both convey the danger of trying to find our security anywhere but in God and His great care for us (1 Peter 5:7). Alyson Kieda