For those C.S. Lewis lovers out there….
If you’ve done it before, you know what it’s like to move across states. Yes, it looks different for all of us, but the same underlying challenges are there: new job, new place, bruises and sore muscles from moving, taking your driver’s license test, change of address, license and registration, finding where the closest grocery store is, all the unexpected expenses – some big, some small – but they all add up, and getting lost – a lot …. to name a few.
Sometimes the speed they pound you at is overwhelming and unsettling, and you feel if you stop to think about it, you’ll break. Thoughts of doubt and/or despair can quickly seep into your mind.
It really all boils down to your perspective and your character when it comes to dealing with these situations. I hate to admit I’ve dealt with some of these situations with a negative and complaining “woe is me” spirit. But even in those times, the Lord has shown me his awesomeness in a way that rebukes me gently.
I’ve been reading a book called Living Like A Narnia: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles by Joe Rigney. In chapter 13, “Tell Me Your Sorrows,” he references The Horse and His Boy. I really related to Shasta (the boy), as you’ll see below, when he looks back and sees how “horrible” his past was and present situation is – how he’s “the unluckiest person in the whole world.” When “the Thing” says, “One who has waiting long for you to speak,” I choked up in realizing how often I go first to myself or others to “fix” or get out of tight scrapes – and even when it doesn’t work out I still somehow won’t go to God in prayer – to tell Him my sorrows – because I can’t “see” Him.
It was a wonderful, beautiful and humbling reminder of how God isn’t a God of chaos, but he is God in the chaos – that he “works all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28) That’s what I love about C.S. Lewis – the undertones that point us past ourselves – that stir up in us that natural desire for and delicious hope in a Savior.
For his entire life Shasta has been at the mercy of forces beyond his control, tossed about by events and circumstances, cut off from love, affection and security…to top it off…Something begins to walk along next to him, breathing deep sighs and filling Shasta with terror…In the dark he whispers, “Who are you?”
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you – are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please go away…Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!”
Then the Voice breathes a warm, reassuring breath on the frightened child and says, “Tell me your sorrows.”
And Shasta does – from being orphaned and beaten by his adoptive father, to fleeing from multiple lions and hiding in ghoulish tombs, to the heat and thirst of the desert, and the loneliness and hunger of the present moment.
And then the Voice surprises him by saying, “I do not call you unfortunate,” and then informs him that in all his journeys, there was only one lion, “but he was swift of foot.” And then, most shockingly of all, the Voice says, “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat that comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you”
In this moment, Shasta discovers that behind a frowning providence, Aslan hides a smiling face. All that he had called “bad luck” and “misfortune” was really the wise and good plan of the Great Lion. As he says to Aravis later, Aslan “seems to be at the back of all the stories.”
Don’t forget, for those of you who know the whole story (and for those of you who don’t), that Shasta, through these series of “unfortunate” events ends up being reunited with his long-lost father. The Lord provided, not only a full-time job, but a career, full of potential, in this position as marketing coordinator with a nationally recognized engineering firm. I admit was scared to let go of my former job, thinking there wasn’t anything I’d enjoy more or that I was giving up something precious or I’d get stuck in some job I hated, when, in fact, it was a dead-end job (although an enjoyable job and I had great coworkers and good boss). Best of all, I was reunited with the man I love. It’s amazing to see the One behind all my (and your) stories.