The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result, you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say but I shall still be,
Your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis.
If there is one thing that I will be grateful for from the time of my childhood, it is the fact that I was exposed to The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. While some people were only exposed to his stories from the underwhelming Narnia films made by Disney, God blessed me with being able to read three of the books: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew, and Prince Caspian (I read some of The Silver Chair as a child, but could not finish because I had to return the book to the library). The books are so magnificent that if one were to ask me which is my favorite, I would struggle to come up with an answer.
The Magician’s Nephew captivated my emotions and anguish in the tale of how evil came to Narnia. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the tale of redemption and salvation. Finally, Prince Caspian… was enchanting. It was the most entertaining of all, as this novel was the one that showed how much appreciation Lewis had for Greek mythology and epics. The reason I loved these books so much is because they were perfect pieces of fiction, and I almost forgot just how good they were until our fellow writer, and close friend, Ashton Clark reminded me of that. I am glad Ashton reminded me of that because I forgot how good it was to have that sense of youthfulness.
One of my most favorite posts, which happened to be written by Ashton Clark, was called The Beauty of Age. In it I was reminded of how we should be grateful of our age, and that there is beauty in every age. I agree wholeheartedly, but I want to add to that. I think that our fellow writer nailed it when saying that we glorify God in a beautiful way, but I also think that we should make sure we keep something. I think that it is important that every person retains some essence, and I believe it is important because Christ says it is important.
In one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV), Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” There has to be some truth the fact that children’s sense of adventure, passion for dreams, and imaginative thoughts are something that Christ wants us to have. What is more glorious: to see a middle-aged man being ‘realistic’ and unimaginative, or to see a child drawing with little crayons something she imagined? What is more glorious: to see a grandpa complain about politics and those pesky neighbors, or to see a child trusting the arms of the father and mother he or she has?
It is sad to me when I see old people throw away their desire to see God glorified for a comfortable retirement. It hurts me to witness middle-aged people who care more about what kind of college their child will go to rather than having a valuable relationship with the holy, Triune God. It tears me up to see the elderly having regrets about their life and asking, “Why did I waste my time trying to get rich when I should’ve _____?” Keep in mind that I don’t think saving up, scholarships, education, and work are bad things, but only when we throw away our child-like passions for God to be traded off for the “American Dream.”
Jesus wants us to do wonderful, great things for the Kingdom. He wants the Gospel to prevail, so much so that people would come to know the beauty of it. However, I think that we should be like children while doing it: completely dependent on the Father, being imaginative in all that we do for God, submissive to the glorious cause, and running to see the Gospel be proclaimed. We shouldn’t think life is either about hard work or delightful joy. Why not both? Are we not in Christ? Is not Christ glorious enough?
All of this brings me back to Narnia. The message of the Gospel was conveyed so simply, so artistically, and so wonderfully that a person is left in awe. Lewis used the imagery of Celtic fairy tales, the prose of Greek epics, and the themes of the Scriptures to convey a message that would make you feel like a child. In my skimming of The Magician’s Nephew, I thought, “Wow! I am glad to be a child of God.” I sincerely wished for Christians to have a childlike joy to be found in Christ!
Sadly, C.S. Lewis was right. For some, people get too “old” in their thinking. They don’t want to have that childlike joy. For them, it’s living in a fairytale land. Living a biblical life, spreading the Gospel with the Doctrines of Grace, and holding to historical Christianity… is a tall tale for them. I beg all of you are who are reading this: don’t get too old! Christianity is worth it. I don’t want to lose that passion, that love, and that boyish enthusiasm for the Gospel, for I know that it is true and that it is worth it.
When Lewis wrote his dedication in 1939, he didn’t realize that his book wouldn’t be published until 1949. He also didn’t realize that his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield, would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She struggled, she was in pain, and she almost found no hope. It seemed like there would be no escape from the miserable life she had, and that no God could ever help her. But, as Lewis had hoped for, she didn’t get too old… she got old enough. She got old enough to hunger for that youthful charm again, and she dusted off those fairy tales and began to read. She desired Christ, and people could see it. Owen Barfield saw such a humility with his daughter when she renewed her faith that he said, “I could go down on my knees before my daughter.”
My dear friends, I don’t want to get too old. I want to understand, right now, that God desires for me to be like a child. God wants me to be giddy, in the same way I was when I read The Chronicles of Narnia. I hope that it won’t take a horrible disease, old age, or hard circumstances to remind you of God’s beauty and majesty. I hope that we never lose that sense of awe and wonder that a child has before a great hero. As for me, I will always be young enough to hear fairy tales, and I hope you all will be too.
Soli Deo Gloria.