This Is It

“This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life” (1 John 5:12).

The life is in Jesus.

When I was a kid, I thought eternal life was simply living forever. Not that anyone overtly told me this, but it’s what my kid brain grasped when anybody talked about how whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. To me, that meant life that lasted a long time.

I think what I’m beginning to understand is that, while the forever part is right, there is more to it than that. It’s more than just quantity of life. It’s about a quality of life, too.

Eternal life is life with Jesus at the source. It’s where Jesus becomes my life. It’s where even my best days now are nothing compared to what my eternal future will be like.

As I’ve said before, I like to think of C.S. Lewis’ description of the New Narnia in his book, The Last Battle. It’s like everything you were always looking for but never knew it.

It’s like waking up on the first day of summer after school ends, knowing you have freedom up ahead. It’s like that first day of pure vacation bliss. Oh, and it doesn’t end in August or when you go back to work. It never ends.

It’s like that one book I read so long  ago. I can’t remember any of the detail, only that it was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and was sorry to see it end. Eternal life is the realization that this life now are like the title page and the introduction and the rest is the real beginning, a story where each chapter gets better than the last.

 

 

The Silver Chair

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So now I’m reading The Silver Chair. That means I only have one more Narnia book after this. Also, I believe there will be a movie hitting theaters in the next year or two based on this book (although I’m a bit skeptical as to how faithful the filmmakers will be to the original source material).

I do love this book.

I love how Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole escape from their dreary clouded school day into bright and sunny Narnia. Well, technically they start out in Aslan’s country, but it’s in the same world.

I also love that ol’ Puddleglum, the Marsh-wiggle. He’s the pessimist of all pessimists, but he’s the one who keeps the other two grounded and who comes through grandly in the climactic scene (which I won’t divulge for those who haven’t read these books yet).

I especially love how the book’s theme is that you can make a royal mess at the start– to the point that it seems like you’ll never get back on track– and still at the end find a way to succeed. After all, it’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish.

More accurately in my experience, it’s not how many times you’ve screwed up or how big a fiasco you’ve made of your life up to this point, but how God can transform even that into good. Or better yet into something marvelous.

It’s funny how the evil scheme was to get one of the main characters, who had been bewitched, to steal what was already rightfully his. It’s funnier still how Satan did the same to Jesus, offering Him the world if He would only worship the prince of lies. Jesus knew that the world and everything in it was already His. Furthermore, He knew that all this world was not Satan’s to give in the first place.

Temptation is often the devil trying to get us to go after something good, but in the wrong way at the wrong time, like having premarital sex or having an affair instead of enjoying intimacy with the one God made especially for you. He offers what is not really his to give and what God alone can truly give, but often in a way that is different and much better than we would have chosen.

So I give the book 5 stars. Out of 5.

PS There is a BBC film version that is quite faithful to the book but looks as though it had a special effects budget of about $8. It’s good in a campy sort of way.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

I’m now almost done with my favorite of all the Narnia books– The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That means only two more to go after this one.

There’s so much to like in this book, but the best part is toward the end when they’re getting close to the end of the world, beyond which lies Aslan’s country. Spoiler alert.

The book reminds me that at some point, we have to say goodbye to the ones we love. That’s hard. But the key is in the perspective. That is, you focus on the time you had and the memories you made instead of the loss. Plus, God never takes anything away without giving something better in return. Usually, that something is God Himself. But I digress.

Even though I read these books through every year and I know I’ll read them again at some point in 2016, it still makes me a bit sad knowing that I’m nearing the end of these books.

I think my favorite character is that noble mouse Reepicheep. He’s the smallest of them all, yet he’s also the bravest and most daring. He’s the one who wants to head into the darkness and stay at Ramandu’s table for the adventure of it.

But I like Lucy, too. After all, I did name my cat after her.

 

ISO One Magical Wardrobe

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I’m re-reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I can’t express enough how much I love this book. I also can’t express enough how much I’d like one of those magical wardrobes that you climb inside and wind up in a different world.

I’d love to be able to visit Narnia from time to time and see all those wonderful characters.

I do realize that wardrobes don’t work that way all the time. I also get that Narnia exists only in the world of fiction. Or does it?

There’s a little bit of Narnia in the best of my dreams. There’s a little bit of Narnia in those moments when I am truly and freely myself, when I really don’t care what anyone else, when fear absolutely ceases to exist for a moment.

These books were written for kids, but even as a grown-up, I still find so much that makes me pause and think. There’s really so much depth in the simplicity of these stories.

I love that Aslan isn’t safe, but He’s good. That’s true of God. We want Him safe and predictable, never asking anything unexpected of us. But that’s not the God I read about in the Bible. The God I read about isn’t safe, but He truly is good.

God’s primary concern isn’t our safety. It’s us looking and behaving like Jesus, even if we go through some harrowing places to get there. God doesn’t want us happy as much as He wants us holy (which probably goes against most of the feel-good theology that comes out of most pulpits these days).

I even love that Mr. Tumnus who started out to do a very bad thing, but repented and stuck to his word, even if it meant being turned into stone. And even Edmund became a decent fellow in the end.

I just love these books!

 

Hangin’ with The Magician’s Nephew

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Some people like to spend their annual vacation in Panama City or Savannah or Gatlinburg. I myself like to visit Narnia on a yearly basis. So it’s that time again when I pick up The Magician’s Nephew and commence on re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia.

Back in the day, the series started with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and went in the order in which C. S. Lewis wrote them. Now, the series starts with The Magician’s Nephew, which involves the creation of Narnia, and progresses chronologically in terms of the story line rather than in the order in which the books were published. Is that clear as mud?

Either way, they’re great books. They always encourage me and reaffirm my faith without being overly preachy. Even those who don’t care much for Christianity can read these books and find much to like. Or so I would imagine.

I highly recommend these books to anyone who likes allegorical fiction (even though these books aren’t really allegories in the strictest sense) or just good literature. They were written for children but anyone who is young at heart will love them.

I will keep you updated as I move through the seven books in the series.

 

House Hunters International: Narnia

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I recently watched an episode of House Hunters International on HGTV, where a couple was looking to move to Scotland. I was sold after hearing the real estate agent’s accent, as I am a sucker for a good Scottish accent.

It got me thinking. What if they did an episode of House Hunters International set in Narnia? I do know that Narnia isn’t real in the same sense as Scotland or Germany or any of the other countries that you can actually find on a world atlas.

But just the thought of choosing a home in Narnia would be a cool concept. Maybe Mr. Tumnus could be the real estate agent. And the biggest selling point? A chance to meet Aslan.

In case you’ve ever wondered who Aslan really is, C.S. Lewis once received such a letter from a young fan. He responded thus:

“As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the great Emperor. (3.) gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb…. Don’t you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer!”

I’ve said it before, but I really believe Heaven will be a lot like Narnia. Or maybe I should say that Narnia is the best representation of what Heaven will be like that I’ve seen (or read). And the idea of it being like the first day of summer after the school term has ended perfectly captures that overwhelming feeling of joy.

So I think House Hunters International: Narnia is a winner, followed possibly by House Hunters International: Hobbiton.

 

Radner Lake and Henry David Thoreau

image When was the last time you paused and stood absolutely still and silent for one minute? When was the last time you went to a place of solitude and did nothing more than listen to the quiet? I walked my favorite trail at Radnor Lake State Park again today. Even after so many times, it still feels like I’m leaving Middle Tennessee for Middle Earth. I feel like I could be Frodo Baggins out for a hike in the Shire. image When I stood still, I could hear nature all around me. Leaves rustling, birds singing, wind humming. Even myself thinking. I think God speaks loudest to me in the quiet. When I’m still and my brain isn’t racing with 9,956 tabs open at the same time. Like He did with Elijah, God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice that won’t compete with all the noise and clamor around us. image I can hear that Voice when I’m at Radnor Lake and when I’m sitting in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church or when I’m laying in bed late at night. I confess I’m still not very good at listening. I’m still too impatient and easily distracted. If I try to be still, immediately I think of something I need to do or a note I need to write. Complete stillness is so unnatural for me. For all of us.

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I need to get out more. And by out, I mean to these quiet places with no flashing neon lights or constant noise. Sometimes I think I could be like Mr. Thoreau and find myself a Walden Pond to visit for a while. Yeah, that’d be nice.

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Going Back to Narnia

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Once again, I’m heading back to the wonderful land of Narnia.

For those who either a) live under a rock and haven’t heard of Narnia or b) aren’t as into books and reading as me, here’s what I mean. I’m rereading The Chronicles of Narnia, making it the 15th year running that I have read through these books. Maybe more than that. I haven’t exactly kept a precise count.

For me, it’s like going back to a familiar vacation spot or visiting old friends you haven’t seen in a while. It’s very much like going to a favorite restaurant or shop or location that you haven’t been to in a while.

I’ll get to meet up with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (the inspiration for my cat’s name, in case you were wondering) as well as all the Narnian characters such as Mr. Tumnus, Puddleglum, Glimfeather, Prince Rilian and others. Especially Aslan. And if you don’t know who these people are, I highly recommend finding out by picking up these books. You won’t regret it.

I have the full-color collector’s editions with illustrations by Pauline Baynes. Those are the best, in my opinion, but any way you read them– in dusty old books or on a Kindle or some other electronic reading device– the stories are always captivating and charming and exciting and endearing. Even if you’ve read them as many times as I have.

Old books are the best, I think. Particularly the ones that have a bit of a musty, used smell and a worn, loved feel about the cover and pages. I’m all for Kindles and iPads, but the reading experience just isn’t the same. Call me old-fashioned.

Well, I suppose that if I want to get to Narnia, I should probably wrap this little blog up. Maybe I’ll see you there.