“However, as it is written:”What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”, the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
When I was in the fifth grade, I entered Narnia for the first time when I discovered The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on a shelf in the Sheboygan Falls Library. Taking the book home, I devoured the pages as fast as Edmund devoured his Turkish Delight. I imagined discovering a wardrobe, climbing inside, and being transported to a new land. I wanted to meet a faun and have dinner with talking beavers. I cried when Aslan died at the hand of the White Witch and rejoiced when he came back to life. I continued with the other books in the series, but they did not really capture my attention until later.
I rediscovered the land of Narnia as a new mother, when I was looking for some light reading while caring for two active toddlers. I quickly realized that what I thought was light reading was really a treasure trove of spiritual insights. I celebrated the beauty of creation reading The Magician’s Nephew. I longed for the boldness of Reepicheep, a little mouse, when defending the kingdom. I was moved to repentance when I saw Eustace, a boy who was turned into a dragon, have his pride stripped away along with his dragon skin by Aslan’s claws. I longed for heaven reading The Last Battle.
C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia series, is considered one of the foremost apologists of the twentieth century. He not only wrote children’s books, but also many books on Christianity, discussing, among other things, the concepts of faith, joy, and grace. He is often quoted by many modern theologians. Although his Narnia books can point someone towards God, Lewis would be the first to argue that the Bible, a rich living text, should be the ultimate source for understanding God. He had a rich understanding of the Bible and how it applied to the bigger picture, the picture of our story fitting into God’s story.
The whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the epic story of God. In Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin says, “the Bible is telling us about the reign and rule of God. Its topography speaks of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration in every vista.” It is not just a manual on how to live as a Christian or a map pointing our way toward heaven. It is God’s story, revealing His character. His majesty and artistry are displayed through His words as He speaks creation into existence in Genesis. He bestowed a special status on humans when He created them in His own image, longing to fellowship with them. Yet, this state of perfection was marred when sin separated man from his creator. Despite this fallen state, God had a merciful plan fully revealed in the life of Jesus. Jesus redeemed man from sin by dying on the cross, bringing to us the hope of restoration through His resurrection!
This epic story, the Bible, has lots of supporting characters, such as Abraham, Moses, Rahab, Esther, Daniel, Peter, and Paul. All these characters have different stories in different settings. Some spent their lives wandering in deserts while others lived in palaces. Some were fishermen while others earned their living through prostitution. Yet, despite the vast differences in these characters and their various circumstances, God ordained these stories to be a part of His written word because they played a part in His larger story. For example, Rahab, although she was a prostitute, recognized the power of the God and chose to hide the Hebrew spies. This simple act of faith resulted in her family being rescued from the fall of Jericho. Furthermore, her reputation was restored when her name was recorded in the lineage of Jesus! She had no idea that generations later, despite her past, her DNA would play a part in the redemption of the whole world.
It is easy to get a microscopic view of our lives. We get caught up in our day to day living, not realizing that our lives are bigger than the short years we live on earth. Our story, with God’s hand, plays a part in not just the lives of those immediately around us, but in generations to come, as well. Like Rahab, we have an epic part to play in God’s story.
Although I am in the process of writing a book about my own epic story, my story starts with my Uncle Dennis, as a young man searching for God in 1975. Dennis, my mom’s older brother, had his hunger stirred for God by a friend’s testimony. He attended a church service in a different city from where he lived and immediately saw his need to be baptized. He left that service, having given his heart to God and with a desire to know God more. He started reading the Bible, found a local church to attend, and has served God ever since.
Although Dennis has an extensive knowledge of the Bible, he never felt called to preach. He has never been a Sunday School teacher. He does not write a blog or make Facebook posts expounding on his faith. Yet, in his quiet faithful way, he has impacted many lives, including mine and, as a result, the lives of my children and my grandchild. First, as a little girl, I can remember my uncle being the first man to compliment me on my appearance. As a five-year-old, I would twirl around in my strawberry peasant dress, soaking in his compliments, grinning from ear to ear when he called me “strawberry shortcake.” These simple words acted as antidote to the insults I heard at home, giving me hope that I was something more. He was also the person who introduced me to God by bringing me to Sunday School as a child. For a short season, those few hours every Sunday morning provided me with peace from the swirling chaos at home. Later, after I stopped attending regularly, he continued to pray for me, sometimes prompted by dreams God had given to him. I believe these prayers provided a hedge of protection around me and my family. Finally, my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Brenda, despite being in the middle of one of their darkest moments, reached out to me when my brokenness came to light. They embodied the love of Christ by setting aside their own pain and reaching out to a shattered teenager, giving her hope when she felt hopeless. This simple act was the beginning of my restoration process!
My story was not the only story impacted by my uncle’s life. The obvious transformation of his life by Jesus gave him the boldness to invite a co-worker, Marvin, out to a revival service. Later, Marvin shared with his wife about the invitation, while their son, Wayne, who had been searching for God on his own, overheard the conversation in his room. Wayne instantly felt a stirring in his heart and, of his own volition, attended a revival service that Sunday evening. He walked into the church not knowing anyone personally, but knowing only the name of his father’s coworker, Dennis. Wayne was later instrumental in leading his whole family and others into a relationship with the Lord. In addition, Dennis and Brenda ministered to countless teenagers, mentoring them in their walks with God. Finally, Dennis provided a source of consistency and strength in the life of his wife and daughter. This quiet man would not describe his life as being epic, but his impact, like most supporting characters in the Bible, is impacting generational stories in the epic story of God!
As an adult, I understand more of the symbolism in the stories of Narnia. I get chills every time I read the last chapter of The Magician’s Nephew. The main character, a young boy named Digory, has brought darkness into the newly created world of Narnia by his sinful behavior. After partially redeeming himself for his mistake, Digory later plants a Narnian seed at his home in London. This seed grows into a magnificent tree, which is later cut down and the wood used to build a wardrobe. This same wardrobe becomes the gateway for others to enter the land of Narnia. My story and your story, just like my Uncle Dennis’ story, can become the gateway to the redemption of others by God, leading to their own story of restoration!
In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis ends The Chronicles of Narnia series with the following paragraph:
“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Our stories may have different characters, settings, and conflicts. However, despite these differences, we all need to find resolutions to our own individual conflicts through the life of Jesus, taking our place in His epic story. What is amazing is that our story can continue to be written for eternity, finding complete restoration with God. With our finite minds, we cannot imagine what God has in store for us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 declares, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him.”