I was just wondering if you've ever read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? There are 7 books in the series. I've always loved the first 6 stories, but the 7th, "The Last Battle", was always a bit disturbing. Depressing. I didn't like it and if I could have, I would've erased the entire book.
Lately however, other than the bible, that 7th book has become my favorite book. Earlier this spring I read it out loud to my smallest son and as I read I grew more and more encouraged about life.
The story starts out on a bright sunny day in Narnia; it's a land full of sweet, carefree talking animals, dwarves, nymphs, and even a person or two.:-) Narnia is a country blessed by their Creator and His son Aslan. (Aslan is a lion in the story, but that's neither here nor there as far as this post goes.)
Anyway-all the creatures of Narnia live in peace with each other; they work and play in safety with hardly a care in the world. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Aslan is watching over them and loves them. As a result, they grow complacent and forget to watch out for enemies who might be near. They forget to protect themselves or their country.
And, sure enough, enemies do enter their land. They have a nasty little leader, an ape, who's completely selfish, stupid, and worst of all, a Narnian. He sets himself up as a dictator and tells them he alone has the ear of Aslan and that he has become the voice of Aslan. The simple creatures believe him and settle in to obey his every word. At first he gives simple orders that make sense to everyone, but little by little the ape begins to take more and more control of Narnia. He tells the people of Narnia they must work hard and turn over their earnings to him so he can use it to care for them. He takes more and more of their freedoms away and turns them into slaves. Those who disobey, or even argue with him are severely punished.
The little animals and other creatures of the country don't understand what's happening. They're confused and some begin to despair.
At about this point, when I was reading the story to my son, I started thinking about life. It just seems like it's getting harder and harder to live it with any sense of well being. People I know are hurting. They're losing loved ones; they're losing their health or their jobs. Families are decaying. Our country is changing and it's getting to be a very scary place to live-at least to me it is. Stress is on the rise. I think in many ways our faith is being tested in America like never before and, when I look around, it's very easy for me to give in to fear and despair.
OK-back to Narnia. She does have a king, but up to this point he's been oblivious to the plans and plots of the ape. He suddenly comes upon the ape and at first even he is deceived by the lies being told. But, little by little, as the story unfolds, the king remembers Aslan. He tells himself everything he knows about Aslan and the truth hits him. This ape is not the voice of Aslan. He's wicked and full of hate. His only goal is to destroy.
The king of Narnia, while still confused about what's going on in his country, knows what he must do. He must fight the ape. He knows it's a "hopeless" battle. The ape has too many on his side for the king and his little creatures to fight against. He knows he's going to die. But he also knows he cannot just surrender. He cannot despair. He has to fight for what's true and lovely and good until his life is over. He puts his trust in Aslan and chooses to fight for Him regardless of the consequences.
The story was just so encouraging to me. I look around and I see people whose lives are almost perfect, at least on the outside. Then I see others who are going through horrendous things-things no one should have to face. The Lord used The Last Battle to remind me that we are all in a battle. We are stuck here until our bodies die-we need to fight for what's true and lovely and good. We need to stand our ground and not give in to hopelessness or despair. We need to keep our eyes on the big picture; the eternal picture and remember that He loves us no matter what we're going through or may face. That there is a God and He wants us to keep on keeping on. He wants us to trust Him and depend on Him for the energy, hope, and peace we need to see it all through to the end. What we want, what we're really looking for in everything we do here, is Life with Him. We'll find a bit of that here and can find a bit of that now; but really, Life with Him won't begin until our life in these bodies is over. We're going to go through things that hurt; things that don't make sense or aren't fair. No matter what we need to keep on keeping on.
Some day I want to be able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Tim. 4:7