Truth in a Make-Believe World
By Andrea D. Hedlund
CBN.com Have you ever wanted to relive your childhood? With a vivid imagination, even the most mundane yard became a land of enchantment. Animals talked, and a small cluster of trees could suddenly transform into a wild and exciting forest. Instead of hot dogs and maccaroni and cheese, you pretended to fill your belly with whatever moss, grass, or nuts you gathered.
When you were a child, you embodied a teachable spirit. Wise parents directed your path, and awe and wonder followed you everywhere.
But then all of the sudden one morning you wake up in the adult world, and nothing is the same. That lush forest in your parents’ backyard is now only a few aged oaks. You are too “old” to run around outside and play make-believe. Instead of limitless adventure, you find yourself in the midst of a disillusioned world.
The above illustration depicts how Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy felt when they were abruptly summoned to Narnia by Prince Caspian only to find the once magical land looking quite ordinary.
In Prince Caspian, the second story of The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis sends the Pevensie children back to Narnia in order to restore the land to its former glory and replace a corrupted leader with the rightful heir.
As Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy scour the land for Prince Caspian, Lewis illustrates some simple but profound biblical truths applicable for all ages.
EVIL OFTEN COMES IN DISGUISE
When the children return to Narnia, the whole land is under the spell of King Miraz, who obtains the throne through false pretense. Miraz murdered his own brother and took over Narnia. He wants absolute authority and silences anything that resembles “Old Narnia,” especially talking trees and animals. Nothing about Narnia is exciting anymore.
King Miraz tries to downplay Prince Caspian’s right to the throne, but Caspian’s tutor, Doctor Cornelius urges Prince Caspian to run away before the king can eliminate him as well. It is Doctor Cornelius who instructs Caspian to blow a horn for “strange help,” which turns out to be the one Susan “supposedly” lost sometime during The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
The kings and queens of Narnia are summoned to help Caspian overthrow the false king. Through this fairy tale, Lewis instructs us to break the spell of worldliness in our own world.
“Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness…” Lewis wrote in his essay, “The Weight of Glory.”
In the real world, Jesus, the king of kings, frees us from bondage (John 8:34-46). We then help expose Satan, who “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
MATURATION IS A LONG PROCESS
Like Lucy, who personifies child-like faith, children of God expectedly look to their Heavenly Father for direction. God is pleased by those who practice faith like a child.
Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his followers. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child.” (Matthew 18:2-4)
Although Lucy is the youngest Pevensie, we notice a great amount of character growth for her in Prince Caspian. She is the first Pevensie to see Aslan, and immediately announces his presence to the others. Unfortunately, only Lucy has the faith to see him, so her siblings do not take the path she insists Aslan wants them to follow. Their lack of faith means a longer, more difficult route than Aslan intended.
With Lucy’s maturation comes spiritual discernment, a new awareness, that is misunderstood by others. Prince Caspian, like Lucy, sees things as they are, not as they appear. For example, Caspian quickly realizes his new tutor, Doctor Cornelius is a blessing in disguise, for he encourages Caspian to seek out Old Narnia.
With Peter, Lewis reminds readers that leaders are not born overnight. For example, Peter first leads the group down the wrong path, but later apologizes to Aslan for his mistake. Interestingly, we also find that good leaders, such as Peter, are often reluctant to assume power and feel unqualified.
As Peter matures, Aslan requires greater things from him. God operates the same way. When Christians are faithful in the small tasks, God equips us and gives us more opportunities to serve Him.
Susan’s selfishness and lack of maturation is also very relatable. At times, we all “back-slide” and struggle in our walk of faith. Susan's poor attitude and impatience with her siblings serves as a sober reminder that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Thankfully, we learn that Aslan doesn’t require perfection; likewise, neither does Jesus. And when we are humble, the Lord gladly recruits us to repair a dying world.
In real life as well as Narnia, it is through trials and tough decisions which completes maturation.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:5)
GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS
God’s ways often do not make sense, especially at first. But we acknowledge that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Through Narnia, Lewis teaches us that God always answers prayers, but not necessarily the way we hope He will. This idea of God’s mysterious ways occurs through “strange help” in Prince Caspian.
Caspian blows Susan’s horn for help at the prompting of Doctor Cornelius who says, “It is said that whoever blows it shall have strange help – no one can say how strange.” At the exact same moment in another world, four bored children wait impatiently at a train station. “What could be more mundane and unremarkable?” the narrator says.
When Trumpkin the dwarf later explains that Susan’s horn brought them from the train platform to Narnia, Peter says he “can hardly believe it” because every other time they came to Narnia, it was on their own terms and through the wardrobe door. Caspian, too, is surprised to see that his ‘mighty warriors’ are four children, not great kings and queens, yet they are exactly what he needs to defeat King Miraz.
Through this experience, Peter learns not to be limited by his expectations. Being summoned to Narnia by a horn is not the way he imagined returning to the other world, but he understands it is the will of Aslan.
NOTHING HAPPENS BY CHANCE
Aslan’s providence is evident throughout Prince Caspian, especially whenever the children or someone else makes a bad choice. We learn that Susan’s misplaced horn made it possible for Prince Caspian to call the kings and queens of Narnia.
Even the rescue of Trumpkin,a dwarf of Old Narina, is an act of providence because had the events lined up even slightly different -- the children arriving at the river sooner, later, or never -- Susan would not have been there at the precise moment to shoot her arrow at the soldier’s helmet and halt Trumpkin's execution.
We see that Alsan, like God, is in control and always protecting His children.
For this reason we can live in peace.
You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. (Job 10:12)
WE ALL LONG FOR HOME
As we grow up, we all long for something more. Yearning for another world is another prevalent theme in the Narnia series. In fact, it is not by accident that journeys to Narnia never begin at the children’s home. This evokes the idea that their true residence lies somewhere else - Narnia.
“If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world,” Lewis writes in Mere Christianity.
As Christians, we too are foreigners in this land, just passing through on the way to our eternal destination. In the meantime, we live to shine light in this dark world.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:15-17)
Watch for more from CBN.com's Prince Caspian special feature
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