Is a Lion Safe?
Iíve been a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia for several years now. Whatís funny about it is that it was recommended to me by a friend of mine who is decidedly not a believer. Thatís funny because Narnia was written by a man who worked hard to make his Christian faith known through his writings, Clive Staples Lewis. His family and friends called him Jack, but he is commonly known as CS Lewis.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a seven-book series written between 1950 and 1956. The first one written and published is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (even though all box sets published nowadays has Lion listed as #2). This book is getting a lot of attention this season, because it has become a major motion picture released this month.
The book/movie is not strictly an allegory, as in, each person or event representing something else in real life. But there are many parallels between the book and the Bible. The most notable connection is Aslan, the lion in the title of the story. Iíll let some quotes from the book describe who Aslan is, but let me first give you some background to the story.
Narnia is another world. Four British schoolchildren, fleeing the air raids of London in World War II, stumble upon a wardrobe (read: walk-in closet for us on this side of the pond) in an old mysterious house in the countryside. This wardrobe, they find, leads them into Narnia, a land covered in snow.
In fact, Narnia always has snow, because there it is always winter. Whatís more, in Narnia it is always winter, and never Christmas. It is at the same time wonderful and bleak. You see, Narnia is under a curse. The White Witch Jadis has been ruling the land for 100 years now, keeping Narnians under her thumb with her curse of winter. Oh, that and the fact that she turns her enemies into stone statues.
But the children, the Pevensie siblings, stumble into Narnia at just the right time. They sit down to supper at Mr. and Mrs. Beaverís house for fresh fish and potatoes. After supper, Mr. Beaver reveals an interesting tibdit of information. The Pevensies find out that they are part of an old prophecy which states that four human children Ė Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve Ė would sit on four thrones at the beautiful castle of Cair Paravel, and would rule Narnia. But the key is this: they would not do it on their own, because "Aslan is on the move."
At the mention of Aslan, the children each feel a wave of emotion wash over them. Peter, the oldest, suddenly feels very brave and adventurous. Susan and Lucy feel that they are in a wonderful dream. But Edmund, soon to be a traitor, feels guilty and unworthy.
So the children ask: who is Aslan? Well, Aslan is the King and the Lord of the whole wood, Narnia, but he isnít always there. But the word is, Aslan is back, or at least on his way back.
And he would fix the situation in Narnia. The Witch, whose favorite tactic is turning people and creatures to stone, canít do that to Aslan. Thereís an old saying,
"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
You see, Aslan is not just a lion, but heís a great Lion. Heís the King of the Beasts, and the real ruler of Narnia. Now, Susan asks the beavers, "Is he safe?"
Mrs. Beaver says, "If thereís anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, theyíre either braver than most or else just silly."
Lucy asks, "Then he isnít safe?"
And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: "íCourse he isnít safe. But heís good. Heís the King, I tell you."
This is the King. Certainly not safe, but most certainly good. And when he arrives, he will dispel the winter and bring in the spring and break the Witchís curse and bring new life.
This reminds me of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, especially at this time of the year. Jesus broke the curse of fallen humanity, in a world of always winter and never Christmas. Christmas Ė Jesus Ė changed all that.
But is Jesus safe? Was Jesusí first arrival on earth safe?
Of course not. It cost Bethlehem mothers their babies by the order of the insecure King Herod. It cost Mary her own plans for her family and her life. It cost Joseph the stigma of being the husband to an unfaithful wife.
It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts. It cost the shepherds their jobs, eventually anyway, because the baby born in Bethlehem would end the sacrifice of the shepherdsí flocks.
Godís plans are not always safe, or pleasant, or pain-free. They will sometimes lead us into dangerous places. Missionaries go to unsafe places.
Many believers over the years have lost their lives because they were willing to follow their faith in unsafe places, like Communist regimes, radical Muslim countries, or extreme Hindu nations. If you think that following Godís plans will always lead you to green pastures and beside still waters, youíre in for a shock.
In the words of Simeon, Godís plans for Maryís life would be like a sword piercing her heart. Were those plans safe? No. But were they good? Oh yes.
The arrival of Jesus brought with it the hope of freedom from our perpetual coldness. It brought forgiveness and warmth and hope. So even when Godís plans are not safe, they are still good.
No one knows the plans God has for each of us. But I have to believe they are good. I have to believe that what God leads us to, Heíll lead us through. Things may not turn out the way we expected or wanted, but if we let God do His thing, our situations will turn out good. Maybe not safe, maybe not easy, but good. His plans for our lives may be painful along the way, but they will still be prosperous.
Jesus Christ: "íCourse he isnít safe. But heís good. Heís the King, I tell you." Now and forevermore.