A.W. Tozer memorably noted, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” We want our students to be blessed which means, among other things, we must try to create opportunities for God to hurt them. This does not mean that God is doing something bad; nor are we. Quite the contrary! He is doing something needed in tearing away the bad. In C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the characters is turned into a dragon, but desperately wants to be a boy again. Aslan, the great lion, came and pulled the dragon-flesh away. Look:
“I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
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 smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. 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.”
There is pain in transformation—even in worldview transformation. Transformation means the advent of something new, but also the end of something old. Who we were must die so that we can become who we ought to be. God is in the business of breaking down our idols, even when our hearts are tied to them. Listen to this expressed in Hosea 6:1-3:
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Biblical integration must, at times, put students in a place to be “torn to pieces.” This is not evil. This injury is needed. The Surgeon must cut in order to heal. And we have myriad idols that need to be cut away. As we press our students to acknowledge Him, there will sometimes be difficulty and pain. But do not be alarmed. After they have been hurt, they can be used.
In what areas is your course uniquely positioned to peel back the dragon skin of worldiness? Where do you need to press your students toward the truth… even if changing directions causes them to fall down for a moment?