From the depths of a tearful throat, Digory Kirk’s words tumble from his lips in addressing the Great Lion: “Please, won’t you give me something that can cure my mother?” Then, he looks into Aslan’s face.
“Up till then, he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now in his despair, he looked up at his face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared to Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was, himself” (The Magician’s Nephew).
There are theological conversations, particularly ones of relation and vocation, which frequently collapse into, “Well, I think God doesn’t really care about that.”
Take, for instance, the choice of a spouse. “God doesn’t care what woman you marry,” you may hear men say to one another. Perhaps there may follow some qualifications, “God doesn’t care what woman you marry, so long as she’s a Christian, so long as she’s compatible, committed, etc.” These statements match others, like, “God doesn’t care what your job is” or “God doesn’t care where you go to school.”
It’s sloppy phrasing, though it usually only means roughly, “God will not count as wrong any of these legitimate choices within your range of options.” But, phrasing is not a neutral thing, and this God doesn’t care business is wicked, wicked phrasing.
I want to argue that the three words “God doesn’t care” cannot be reasonably strung together. You see, God cares about everything. That God which is love, is relationship, is utter wisdom and holds infinity, cannot but care about everything. Care – that posture of attentive love – is what binds the parent to the children, the artist to the sculpture, the boyfriend to the girl’s ramblings on about her harrowing shoe-shop venture.
Does God care who you marry? Yes! We can quibble over whether He’s selected an individual or not, but one thing is certain: He cares (more than you do, in fact). What woman could say that her loving parents don’t care who she marries? Of course they care! Without preselecting her spouse, her parents deeply lean forward in a posture of love. Further, it would be hurtful if they were apathetic about the selection rather than appropriately emotional. In the same way, without determining anything in opposition to our free will, God does care.
“God doesn’t care.” Nonsense. The leaning of the language implies that there exist realms of our hearts and our lives toward which God feels neutral. It suggests that God does not attend to us in our entirety. Heaven forbid! Man is the only one who doesn’t care about a single aspect in his heart and experience; even Satan feels neutrally toward nothing in our lives, and God cares infinity more than does our Accuser. God is more deeply invested in every aspect of us than we are, and even more deeply invested in the areas the demons linger than anywhere else. You can eat a crouton to the destruction of your soul, and you can fold your clothing to the glory of God, and God cares about the croutons and the laundry more than it occurs to us as a possibility.
To state that God doesn’t care is to assume that some things border invisibility in the eyes of the infinite Lord. This is a misunderstanding of His majesty. The general wonder gleaned from contemplating the vastness of God’s care provides inherent benefit, and the fallout from failure to recognize it is equally powerful. If there are aspects of our lives which we believe do not feel God’s gaze, we may begin to categorize those aspects in ways convenient to our desires. “God doesn’t care where I work” relates to “God doesn’t care where I go to church” and how many steps lay between that and “God doesn’t care who I’m sleeping with”? God cares. Either with a father’s joy at our triumphs or a doctor’s sorrow at our illness, God cares about these things and all things.
And, so, Digory Kirk’s Lion stands there with tears in his eyes, proving that he cares about whatever matters to us even more than we. I end with a story: since I become quite, quite jolly at Christmas, a friend once laughed that she thought I loved Christmas even more than Christ did. I replied, with thoughts of Lion heartbreak, “I think God’s love is of such power that if He feels even the slightest affection for something, He loves it infinitely more than I can love the thing I love most in my life.” To that I hold. Whatever else can be said about God’s will for our lives and His relationship with our choices, it cannot and should not and must not be said that He doesn’t care.