The Story Within the Story
Courtesy of Christin Ditchfield
“All the same, I do wish. . . . I wish I could have lived in the Old Days. . . . When everything was quite different. When all the animals could talk, and there were nice people who lived in the streams and the trees. Naiads and Dryads they were called. And there were Dwarfs. And there were lovely little Fauns in all the woods.” — Prince Caspian
When Prince Caspian begins, a thousand years have passed since King Peter and King Edmund and Queen Susan and Queen Lucy ruled from the four thrones at Cair Paravel. Since then, a wicked race of men has conquered the land, silenced the rivers and trees, and killed off most of the Talking Beasts and Dwarves and Fauns and Giants. A remnant remain in hiding, holding on to the faintest hope that somehow Narnia will be delivered from the oppression of the Telmarines—set free and restored to its former glory. Some creatures have grown bitter with centuries of suffering. They begin to doubt that the Great Lion Aslan, Narnia’s creator and savior, still exists—if he ever did—or that he cares about their plight. Skeptics say the old stories are nothing more than myths or fairy tales. But there are some who still believe, some who insist that the stories are true—that Aslan will come again and Narnia will see a new day. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Reading Prince Caspian, one can’t help but be reminded of the cycle of oppression and deliverance that God’s people experienced repeatedly throughout the Old Testament. Or the four hundred years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament when God said nothing, but a faithful remnant clung tightly to the hope of the coming of the Messiah. Then again, it’s not unlike the period of persecution that followed Jesus’ earthly ministry, when the Roman Empire forced the early church underground. In some ways, it even seems familiar to us today: the wicked flourish, the righteous are oppressed. Scoffers and skeptics call our faith a fairy tale. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Prince Caspian appears on the scene like King Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34. The boy king of Judah rejected the wickedness and idolatry of his ancestors and single-handedly turned the nation’s clock back. While he was still young, Josiah began to seek God. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (vv. 2–3). He repaired the temple, restored the priesthood, and rediscovered the Book of the Law. “Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory . . . and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord . . .” (v. 33).
But before Caspian can restore Narnia, he must defeat his evil uncle, the usurper, King Miraz. Caspian rallies Old Narnia around him, and they make a valiant effort to take on the Telmarine army. But they are terribly outnumbered. In a desperate moment, Caspian winds the ancient horn of Queen Susan to call for help. The Pevensie children and Aslan will once again appear in Narnia and “put wrongs to right.”
For Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, their second adventure in Narnia is a lesson in courage: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us . . .” (Romans 5:3–5). Lucy discovers the cost of discipleship (Matthew 16:24). She and Susan illustrate the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38–42, as Susan allows practical concerns to keep her from experiencing Aslan’s presence while Lucy chooses to “sit at his feet.”
Prince Caspian also includes powerful illustrations of the following truths: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), and “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
These lessons are just a few of the spiritual treasures you will discover as you return to Narnia with Prince Caspian.
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