Monday, October 17, 2005

Finding God in the Land of Narnia

Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware

We become disappointed with God when His behaviour doesn’t fit the paradigms and patterns we’ve established for Him in our own minds, just as Caspian and Cornelius became disheartened when Queen Susan’s horn failed to produce the kind of assistance they were expecting to receive. Not that the horn didn’t work; in actuality, it couldn’t have been more effective. But the help it brought was strange – almost too strange to be recognised.

This strangeness surfaces again and again in the story of Prince Caspian. The children run up against it the moment they arrive in Narnia. Who would have guessed that the dilapidated ruin in the midst of the overgrown island would turn out to be Cair Paravel, the grand castle where once they had ruled as kings and queens? Who would have surmised that the Lion would send a group of English schoolchildren to rescue the Old Narnians from King Miraz and his powerful army? Who, indeed, would have supposed that Aslan himself could behave in such an odd, unpredictable manner? ‘Why should Aslan be invisible to us?’ complained Peter at a crucial point in the story. ‘He never used to be. It’s not like him.’

The blackest moment, of course, came during Caspian’s eleventh-hour council meeting at Aslan’s How. The horn had been blown, apparently without effect. Time appeared to be running out. Under the circumstances, one could hardly blame Nikabrik for proposing an alternate plan, however dark and sinister. But it was precisely at this juncture that the long-awaited help – strange, unexpected help – stepped out of the otherworld and into the darkened chamber in the form of Peter and Edmund Pevensie. As Trufflehunter had so rightly predicted, it was waiting at the door all the time.

It’s not like Him. The turnaround always comes when the prospects look bleakest. In the words of novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

‘But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it – at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.’

From Chapter 11 of Finding God in the Land of Narnia, published by SaltRiver (Tyndale House) 2005
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