Lessons from The Dresden Files

Over the past couple of years I’ve been slowly working my way through The Dresden Files. It is a book series about a wizard working as a private investigator. Of course, you can imagine the type of crazy cases he has to manage. It is a fun modern-day fantasy and since I’m a fan of gumshoe detective stories like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, I really enjoy these novels.

You wouldn’t expect strong themes from a paperback novel that you could find in the sci-fi/fantasy section of the bookstore, but The Dresden Files surprises me once and awhile with words of wisdom. I just read a part that stood out to me, too. One of the characters is a modern-day knight that fights for heaven and he tells Dresden the story of The Three Blind Men and the Elephant.

THE THREE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT

The story is very simple. Three blind men are presented with an elephant. Since they can’t see, they feel the elephant to determine what it is. The first blind man grabs the trunk and says, “It feels like a snake”. The second man touched its leg and says, “It feels like a tree.” The third man touched its tail and said, “It is like a slender rope.”

UNDERSTANDING

I’ve talked about not leaning on what we know in previous posts, so this story may be a bit of an echo of things I’ve already written about.

The three blind were all wrong and right at the same time. That stands out to me because we are very much like blind men when trying to figure out God. We think we know and understand our circumstances. After all, the elephant is like a snake, tree, and rope. The problem is that the men only see one aspect of the entire picture. The whole thing remains a mystery.

As Christians, I think we can get caught up in seeing only one small aspect. We focus on one thing and forget the big picture. We get trapped in worry, anxiety, or fear over small problems and don’t bother to see what our problems really are, but unlike the blind men we are given the opportunity to see the elephant.

BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE

John 3:39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

Jesus gave us sight to see our situation in its entirety. When he came into the world he actually made blind men see. He did that for everyone in a spiritual sense, as well. Now that we know the eternal plan for salvation, we can see that it is not a snake, a tree, or a rope. In fact, when we see the elephant we realize we weren’t close either. We had so little to go on that we came up with a very small amount of truth. We only knew it was “like” something. We didn’t know for sure, but the truth of Christ has set us free.

The elephant is different for all of us, but it is a reminder that we really don’t see the whole picture. When we try to see with our eyes closed, that is when we don’t line up our heart and mind with Christ, we will only have guesses to what is going on. Though, when we remain grounded in scripture and prayer we will always see the elephant.

Remember, once I was blind, but now I see.

ANOTHER DRESDEN LESSON

Dresden is a private detective, so he gets to ask “Why” a lot. We ask “Why” in our lives all of the time. I feel like I’m always trying to figure out the “Why” behind the events in my life.

So, on one occasion, when Dresden asks “Why” to a friend the response is, “Life would be boring if we had all the “whys” answered.” It is not an exact quote, but you get the picture.

I can take comfort knowing that God knows “Why”, but I don’t need to know. If I did know, what would I wonder about? All my decisions would be boring because I would always know without any risk. I think asking “why” may be an essential part of our free will. We are able to ask “why” just so God can say “trust me.”

So, through Christ we know exactly what we need to know and that is a comfort. We can see the elephant, Christ’s eternal plan for us, but during our daily lives we must trust him and know that he is in control.

GOD IN THE SINNER

The Dresden Files is not for everyone by the way. It can be violent and gritty, very much like old private detective stories. So, be forewarned if you are looking for good clean Christian reading, but I’ve noticed that God can pop up in any story. I think it is in everyone’s nature to pull towards Christ, even if they actively sin and fight against the truth. Even a Non-Christian writer may find his characters representing themes that God wants us to follow. It may be by mistake on the author’s part, but it is not a mistake on God’s part. So, it is good to keep an eye out for God in every story because you never know when he may pop up.

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