This week I’ve been listening to Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis – the dramatized audio book by Radio Family Theatre. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’ve had a love affair with Narnia going on since 1980 – at age 16, when I was first introduced to The Chronicles of Narnia.
As I’ve mentioned before – I have been going through a – well, I guess I’d call it – difficult, season of life. I mentioned last week that I’ve been through all sorts of emotions as I’ve gone through this difficult season. The one thing that I have guarded my heart against is this:
Holding my God…
at arms’ length.
I don’t ever want to be anywhere but nestled deep into the sweet and precious embrace He offers without reserve.
As I was listening to Prince Caspian I thought once again, “Why Susan?! Why?” (Susan Pevensie, of course – Queen of Narnia.) For Susan was told at the end of this story that she would never return to Narnia. In fact, during the course of this story – she is slow to believe and quick to encourage others to follow suit; and not only that – opposes and even belittles Lucy for standing firm in her convictions and commitment to obedience to Aslan. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader mention is made of the fact that Susan had begun to refer to the Pevensie children’s adventures in Narnia as nothing but a childhood imagining. And in The Last Battle she is conspicuously absent.
It dawned on me there could be any number of explanations – but when it comes right down to it – it’s really all about the fact that Susan simply chose to hold Aslan and the things of Narnia at arms’ length.
She chose to not believe.
She chose to lose the childlike wonder over her love for Aslan and Narnia.
She chose to distance herself from those who could encourage her.
She chose to focus on the temporal – rather than the eternal.
Even when she knew – deep down inside – when she truly believed Aslan was there – calling her to follow Him – she chose NOT to believe. Isn’t it easy to follow Susan’s example along the gorge – when Aslan is revealed to those who chose to focus on the daunting prospects – rather than to follow in obedience – because it seemed too frightening.
“Lucy…” Susan began, “…I see him now. I’m sorry.”
“That’s all right.” Lucy humbly responds.
“But I’ve been far worse than you know. I really believed it was Him. He.. I mean, yesterday, when He warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight – I mean deep down inside. But I just really wanted to get out of the woods…”
Isn’t it funny how easy it is to talk ourselves into keeping Him at arms’ length?
Isn’t it funny how we convince ourselves that it’s so much more complex than it really is?
That it’s not really all about us. It’s all about HIM.
Finally – face to face… He spoke.
“Susan, come closer.” Aslan directed.
“Oh Aslan.” Susan responds.
“You have listened to your fears, child. Come, let me breathe on you…. Forget them.”
He is just waiting to do that very thing for us – Father God – isn’t He? Just waiting to love, to forgive, to fill up where there is emptiness, to bring peace and comfort where chaos once reigned.
In short – I want to always have the heart that is open to God. (As Matt so aptly discussed this morning.) I don’t want to keep Him at arms’ length.
…and I never want to be so “grown up” that I lose the wonder over the beauty of the Good News that has saved my very soul – and so thoroughly given me the only Hope that is worth having.