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I read and loved “The Chronicles of Narnia” long before the current movie version was produced. A bookseller once told me that, although the Chronicles were written for children, more adults buy the Chronicles for themselves than buy them for children. And I remember reading, in the foreword to the Silver Anniversary Edition of “Lord of the Rings”, Peter Beagle’s comment, “Lovers of Middle-Earth want to go there. I would, like a shot.”
There are many of us, it seems, who long for…what? Magic? Dragons? A pre-industrial world? All these and more, but mostly, I think, we want the moral clarity, the certainty, and the hope found in some fantasy tales. We want to believe not just in heroes, but in clean, morally pure heroes. Heroes who are real, not spinmasters, who are gentle and courteous when not in combat, not merely efficient killers or sly politicians. We want the triumph of justice, mercy for the downtrodden. We want honor, courage and righteousness to be unfettered by bureaucracy, unrestricted by “criminals’ rights”. We want an unpolluted world where hope is not dead. Or at least we want all these things established by the end of the book. Alas, real life is not like that. And there is no alternative world, no other hope remaining. We have seen all dreams fail.
All except one. I tell you the truth, there is hope! Not certainty, no. But hope, and powerful evidence for that hope. Not just a cleverly constructed fantasy world, but a real hope that an intelligent, sober, cautious, skeptical, world-wise adult can believe in, enough to bet his or her life on. Those who have read about the life of C. S. Lewis, the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”, know that Lewis was a Christian. The Chronicles were an allegory of the Christian faith, of pardon for sins and salvation through faith in Jesus. It is the Christian faith that I believe offers the only hope this groaning, battered world contains.
There are many reasons to believe in the hope of Christianity, but there is one special reason I’d like to tell you about now: the occasion of the passing away of two members of my family who had been life-long believers in Jesus. Their passings were so much like the moments in Lewis’ Chronicles when someone from our world simply stepped into another world.
My maternal grandfather, Marshall Meadows, was a pharmacist in a small Alabama town. In cases of the doctor’s absence, he was often called on to act as a doctor, in addition to working extremely long hours in his pharmacy. Finally, due to heart problems, advanced age and overwork, on doctor’s orders he was home in bed, seriously ill. One day the housekeeper, a black lady named Lucy, walked in and found him dressed and combing his hair in front of the mirror. She exclaimed, “Mr. Marshall, what are you doing out of bed?” He replied, “Why, Lucy, don’t you know? I’m going home today.” And that day he passed from this life into the next.
Many years later Marshall Meadows’ wife, Irene Meadows, joined him in the next life. I had been out of the country, and my money had run out. I had returned to America and moved in with my parents. “Miss Irene” was also living with them. One afternoon not long after I returned, I heard Mother calling my father in a very urgent tone. I investigated and found Miss Irene sitting in her armchair, leaning back as if asleep. Mother was stooping beside her, holding her wrist. As I came in, Mother said to me, “She’s so cold!” I took Miss Irene’s other wrist and was shocked at her coldness. The thought flashed unbidden into my mind, “This is death.”
It was. My father called 911 and the paramedics took Miss Irene’s body to the emergency room, but she was no longer in it.
But something happened as Miss Irene left this life. Mother was passing by Miss Irene’s room and her door was open. Mother was there at exactly the right time. She looked in and saw Miss Irene sit up, reach out her hand as if to touch someone, call the name of one of her sisters who had been dead for fifteen years, and immediately her body slumped back into the chair. She was gone.
It is my firm belief, based on my own spiritual or “supernatural” experiences, that these two life-long believers in Jesus were met as they stepped through the door we call “death”. I’m well aware that there are other possible explanations, but I believe that both my maternal grandparents were given this kind of passage to the next world so that we who were left behind would have evidence of the reality of the next life, and of its character, of the fact that death is not the end, and that the next life is what we have longed for – one of joy and peace. These two believers were not afraid! They were “going home”.
In “The Last Battle”, the last book of The Chronicles, the last king of Narnia and his faithful followers find that the door they have been trying to avoid leads them from a desolated Narnia into “Aslan’s Country”, the Chronicles’ analogue of Heaven. They meet their loved ones there, and as they journey on they find what looks like Narnia, and what looks like the England that the English children had come from. They realize that what they loved in their own countries was just a shadow of the real Narnia and the real England, in Aslan’s Country.
I am firmly convinced that this is reality. I am confident that I will one day meet my maternal grandfather, and be reunited with all of my family who were believers in Jesus. That, after all, is what is promised in the Bible. I fail to understand why this world has to suffer so much, and suffer such horrible things. But this I know, that without the early and constant influence of the Holy Spirit (present in me because of my faith in the God of the Bible and Jesus His Son) I would have become what I wanted to be, a violent criminal. From early in my teen years I struggled to restrain my criminal impulses because I was convinced of the reality of God, and therefore of the certainty of eventual punishment for evil conduct. As I grew older, I became changed by God’s presence in my life and no longer had to struggle so hard to defeat these evil impulses. I began to become a better person morally. I do not believe that this battle will ever end in this life, for anyone, but with God’s help it gets much easier as time passes.
This is important: if God were not real, my belief in Him would have eventually faded away due to the influence of evil in the world. However, at several crucial points in my life, God was there. He acted to protect me, to warn me, to remind me of His existence…and if He were not good, His influence on me would not have been toward righteousness.
I find this righteous influence on my character to be a very powerful reason to believe in the goodness and the love of God, in spite of other evidence to the contrary. I have not been perfect, but I have avoided doing evil, on a couple of occasions only because God immediately and specifically intervened and gave me the strength to refrain from doing evil that I would otherwise have chosen to do. I am acknowledging the truth of the Bible verses which declare that no human being is truly good. (See Psalms 53:3, Romans 3:12, Mark 10:19, among many others.) This is not pleasant to admit, but a painful truth is infinitely more useful and helpful than a beautiful lie.
And the most important truth is this: if the Bible is the truth about God and about Jesus, then these things are also true:
“I don’t want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep. I don’t want you to suffer intense grief and despair, like those who have no hope. Because if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then we can believe that God will also raise with Jesus those who died believing in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive at the return of the Lord will by no means precede those who are dead. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of the Lord. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we will always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)
“This I tell you, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God…Pay attention! I am revealing to you what used to be a mystery: we will not all die, but we will all be changed, in an atom of time, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and when it sounds the dead will be raised immortal, undecaying, incorruptible. and then we who are still alive will also be changed! For this corruption, this decay, must put on incorruption, undecayableness, and this mortality must put on immortality. When this has happened, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1st Corinthians 15:50-57)
“Do not cast away your confidence, which carries with it a gigantic reward. You have need of patience, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘Just a little while, and He who is coming will come, and when He does, He will come swiftly. Now the justified will live by faith, but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:35-39)
I’m sixty-seven years old at this update of this article. I have a B.S. in Business and Economics, have traveled the United States extensively, spent six months in Brazil, held many different kinds of jobs, dabbled very mildly in politics, read extensively on many topics. I have exhaustively discussed the Christian faith with pastors and other Christians across the nation, my retired rocket-scientist father … and I have discovered no other possible source of hope than the resurrected Christ, even for happiness in this life, let alone for a pardon for sins or for hope of a joyous immortality.
The God of the Bible is presented as all-powerful, loving, and able to see the future in infinite scope and detail. I do not understand why such a God would create us such that we would choose to be evil, or why He would create Lucifer such that Lucifer would become Satan. Nevertheless, I have the foregoing as well as other powerful evidence that the God of the Bible is good and that there is hope in Jesus. I therefore will not throw away that hope, especially in light of the fact that there is no other hope.
And God continues to encourage me, strengthen me in faith, and instruct me. In 2006 God showed me the answer to a question that had troubled me for more than twenty years. Because God has continued to guide me and help me in many ways, my faith has gotten stronger over the decades. I urge those who feel pain, disillusionment, or despair to consider these things. I urge you to ask God for peace of mind, for comfort, for evidence of your own that He is real and that He loves you. If you ask for the purpose of following truth wherever it leads you, God will answer.
There is an old hymn that says, “We’re marching to Zion…” Allow me a little “poetic license here: I’m going to Narnia! And there’s plenty of room for more “Old Narnians”! In fact, there are promises to that effect from the Prince of Peace Himself:
“In My Father’s house are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come back for you, that where I am you may be also. If this were not true, I would have told you.” (John 14:2-3)
“…there is no way I will reject anyone who comes to Me.” (John 6:37)
For those who doubt God’s love because of the evil that surrounds us and daily grows worse, I have this suggestion: consider the meaning of the cross. God knew it would be hard to believe in His love for us living in a broken world, so He made Himself vulnerable to the max to us by allowing His Son to be tortured to death in our place, if we will only accept it. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he give up his life for his friends.” And that is what Jesus did, to provide salvation and to demonstrate in the most irrefutable way that God. Does. Love. Us.
For those who doubt, get a copy of the New Testament in a translation you can easily understand and read what the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have to say about Jesus. The authors of the New Testament claimed, in the words of one of them, “We have not followed cleverly devised fables. We told you what our eyes have seen, what our ears have heard, what our hands have touched. We were eyewitnesses of His glory…” (2nd Peter 1:16)
Read what the eyewitnesses wrote about Jesus, because Jesus said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) I can’t explain our present circumstances, but Jesus’ love for people and His honor shine bright. That shining love and honor plus His resurrection are the foundation for the best, the last, the only hope for every one of us.
Believe, and join us in Narnia!