In part one I discussed how the Chronicles of Narnia related to my image of God. In this post I will zoom in a little further on the topic of faith, which is an important theme in the movie.
I love this scene.
To find all that you seek, there is the utter east, doubt not…
Lucy wondering if Aslan’s country is a place you could actually go and the mouse advising her that there is only one way to find out. Besides the clever world play as Aslan’s country as the end of the world, there is something very profound in the song and this communication between the old friends. The mouse is actually laying out his faith very similar to what Hebrews 11:1 tells us about faith:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Our chivalrous little mouse is quite confident as to Aslan’s country where he one day hopes to live and even while there is no guarantee that there is such a country in the “utter east”: the fact that Aslan comes from the east when and if He comes is enough assurance for him it seems. Assurance enough to hope to one day earn the right to see this country. Our little mouse is ready to do whatever and go wherever it takes him so as to earn the right to see Aslan’s country. Again a parallel emerges with Hebrews, 10:39:
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
When Paul wrote this letter he was concerned about the perseverance in faith. And I guess that that is what it comes down to as a start and an end in Christianity. And that is not always easy in our western secular society with all it’s temptations and controversial opinions. I certainly have had my doubts over the past period, about Christianity in general, the church, God, Jesus.
It brings back memories of when I handed over the wheel to Christ slightly over a year ago. At that point in time besides being saved I felt like all I had left was faith in the sense of Hebrews 11:1. All the (traditional scientific) evidence I had been collecting for the previous years turned out to be inconclusive as to whether God was a reality. Do not understand me wrong here: I could not find the scientifically sound and conclusive evidence for and against God. But there I said it: scientific evidence. It took me another year and the evidence of an American court case before I realized that I would always run around in circles because as per definition and creed, supernatural explanations are excluded from science. And there is in fact a good argument for such a naturalist, material approach. It will always keep on challenging us to keep on looking for natural explanations an in that we discover more about nature. But at the same time it will never tell us anything conclusive about whether or not a living God, that created the universe, that became flesh and was among us and died on the cross so that out relationship with God was again a possibility because the price for out sins was paid, a Holy Spirit that guides us and comforts us, a Christianity that comes with miracles and signs as a result of God among us and who’s working through us. In order to appreciate a miracle you will need to know what is the norm or what is standard in nature. And that is exactly where science comes in.
Science and religion appear to be eachother’s greatest enemies yet they are in fact complimentary in that they cover overlapping areas of interest from different perspectives. If anything science is about knowledge while religion is about meaning, about wisdom. But I am wandering off here.
As said, when I converted to Christianity, all I had left to go on was faith. And in that sense I guess my first year has been a personal Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a journey in any event and a journey to my own dark island to be face to face with the evil trying to corrupt me. I have found that the evidence that has made the biggest impact has been experiential and subsequently science may provide some sort of explanation and faith comes after that as a sort of trust and assurance that is indeed all to do with the God I am hoping to be in a relationship with. That assurance again is strengthened not so much by by experiences alone but on the basis that God is indeed working in my life. And if there is anything I learned from that it is that Christ is not a guarantee for an easy life, that suffering for whatever reason may well be part of the equation but the rewards are greater than any of the pain and or suffering. In a secular society the individual is placed in the center of the universe, his or her own universe for that matter. Self empowerment, self power, self strength, self(ishness under a coat of humanism or new age spirituality) are very central in our thinking: Christianity opposes that with the empowering image of servant-hood. As Christians we hand over the throne of our lives to Christ, or that is what I understand it is we are to do. And even if I am wrong in that, I have found it to be a very rewarding exercise so far.
It is I think even though I may be on this journey only short that it is in faith that we find endurance and victory. The more I think about it the more everything seems to be boiling down to faith. It is one thing to say: “He is not safe but He is good” but it is another to live it. It is one thing to have faith in God’s healing and transformational power but it is another to live it. It is in faith that we (I) find peace.
Throughout the Matthew we read about the importance of faith. It is in faith that Jesus was completely at peace when a storm broke out on the water.
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Here is a boat of men fearing for their lives, waves crashing over the deck and what does Jesus do? He’s sleeping! And when he’s woken up by disciples fearing for their lives he is sort of irritated about their lack of faith and subsequently calms the storm. I guess we, in any event I, am probably exemplary of Peter when he is invited to walk on the water. As long as he keeps himself fixed on Jesus he’s going great, but then he starts looking around and in worldly terms looks at what he is doing and starts to sink. It was faith that healed many, that made Jesus perform miracles, made the apostles and disciples live a supernatural life.
If anything I find that the past year has been one where I learned that nothing is impossible if I keep my eyes fixed on God but at the same time a year in which I am slowly but surely have been learning how difficult it sometimes is to do just that when your mind turns your attention to your circumstances and you look at them in worldly terms instead of Godly terms. Perhaps we should look for Jesus, Aslan first and the answers will come. I guess that is what all great men and women of the Bible have in common: they had a relationship with God and from that came the faith in His plans for them. But that means we’ll first have to seek Him and if we do He will be found.
In Prince Caspian Lucy makes a very good The children and the dwarf have gone to find the Prince, and they have been following Peter’s direction. They come to a ravine where there’s a stream running many feet below.They decide that they must go around somewhere down the river. Then Lucy sees Aslan, and he seem to signal that she should follow him. There are four different reactions to her statement:
- The dwarf doesn’t believe there really is an Aslan.
- Peter wonders why Aslan wouldn’t have made himself visible to him.
- Edmund says that they shouldn’t question Lucy because she’d been right before.
- Susan wonders why no one else saw him.
To Susan Lucy makes a classic response:
“Perhaps you weren’t looking for him.”
Is it not the same with many of us, myself included? We sing about a living and ever present God. We say that we believe that He is at work, and at the same time do we actually look for Him? Do we give credit to the things that happen in our lives? To what do we attribute blessings? Who sustains us and allows us our very lives? We read our Bible and pray, we believe that that is it. We think that He might heal our sickness or help us get a job. At the same time we (I) can be truly oblivious to what He is at work doing right now in our area or in our own hearts.
Lucy’s got it. Many times we don’t see God because we aren’t looking for Him. He’s explained away or we attributed something that is His provision to ourselves, our abilities or our job. As it proved to be the case in terms of crossing the ridge. It ended up that He was there, and He did have a direction. Lucy asked later what the cost was of not following him, and so should we. But in order to follow we first need to listen and hear what He has to say. And as I am finding regularly that may well be not what I hoped to hear, I thought that would come, on other occasions I am surprised and find it to be better than I could have hoped for.
So thus for now we have God as the beginning and the end, Aslan, Jesus as God becoming flesh and the savior, and faith as they key to our relationship with God. Our minds and hearts may well be closing our eyes for the good we are getting because we are so focussed on what we did not get or because he’s leading us where we do not what or imagined ourselves to be going. And that is where faith comes in “He’s not safe but he’s good”, and only by placing our faith completely in Him we’ll find out what He really has in store for us. I guess there’s my new years resolution. More on that in the final part in a next post.