You're Nobody Very Special
The Horse and His Boy used to be my least favorite book in the Narnia series, but now it is the one I love most dearly.
I have been reading this book aloud to one of my classes, and today we hit the chapter where Bree, the proud, talking war horse, is too ashamed to continue his journey to Narnia because he has proven himself a perfect coward in a time of dire need.
A good hermit finds Bree as he is confessing his insufficiency and confronts him,
"My good Horse," said the Hermit, who had approached them unnoticed because his bare feet made so little noise on that sweet, dewy grass. "My good Horse, you've lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don't put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You're not quite the great Horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody very special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another.”
As much as I want to do great things in the kingdom of God, I tend to be more quixotic than heroic. Sometimes fear of exposing myself is so great, I just want to hide and not risk failure. I don’t like seeing the cracks in my character that come to light when I try to believe in myself and then fall on my face.
Besides, there are just so many critics out there in the world standing ready to mock other people’s faults. I have seen friends trying to do their best and then getting ripped apart, even by believers. Sometimes I’ve been one of the ones doing the ripping.
So I get a big lump in my throat watching Bree being brought down to earth. His humiliation is seen as a good and healthy thing. Am I ready to grow like that?
A proud person can handle neither compliments nor criticisms well, because he receives both as a judgment on his core identity. When we are proud, we do not see ourselves as a vessel of Divine power, but as an end in ourselves. This allows us to take on too much credit in success and a paralytic shame in failure. This is also why a proud person will tend to either run away or attack when challenged. I have done both this week. It's been frustrating to see how fragile I can be.
But the truth is, I’m nobody very special, and that’s okay -- because when even a sparrow falls, God is aware. We don't have to be remarkable, brave, brilliant, or powerful to merit His devotion. He is the hero. Our identity is not earned; we have nothing to prove and nothing to merit. He loves us freely, just because He loves us, and He is used to breathing life into the dust of the earth.
While we were yet broken, Jesus died for us. Maybe understanding this sort of dependence is an essential first step in following Him.