In Prince Caspian, the second of the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, the four Pevensie children are unexpectedly whisked back to Narnia for new adventures. Lucy, the youngest, faces isolation and fear as the children gain their bearings. Her trial is more difficult than this time around. But all is forgotten when she is unexpectedly reunited with Aslan, the mighty lion and Narnia’s king.
“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger”.
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
Eventually the day is saved, the kingdom restored. But Lucy’s battles are not over. She will continue for a little while to be misunderstood by the others, to watch as Aslan tarries and gathers before finally completing his rescue. And she has yet another adventure ahead of her years later, the most difficult of them all, during which she sees Aslan only sparingly and has to navigate mostly by what she has learned of him, doing her best to remember what he would say or desire.
As most of us know, C.S. Lewis was a Christian theologian and wrote his Narnia stories as parables, with Aslan as a stand-in for Jesus Christ. His heroes were children, because we are as children before God and before a world much bigger than us. Lucy, especially, is Lewis’ main and favorite character because she wants to see Aslan. She wants to believe.
And Aslan’s promise to us is God’s promise – that as we grow, he will become bigger.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
I used to believe that things would get easier as I grew in the faith. The opposite is true. Like a video game, the levels only get harder. High school, college, the military, career, ministry…each one has been steadily tougher, presented fresh challenges to my faith and my identity in Christ, strengthened the lies and the spiritual warfare. The enemy doesn’t just go away, and he doesn’t give up easily.
Yet God has stepped up to the plate each time.
If you’ve ever read the Bible just once and assumed God’s done revealing himself, you’ve missed out. As your trials grow, so does his power and his works. He never fails to reveal more as you stay committed to the pursuit. As the enemy’s lies and discouragements increase, God’s power and truth increase. His provisions grow in proportion to your challenges.
When your task shifts from making it by yourself to making it as a single mother, God brings you what you need.
When your experience moves from a weekend mission trip in an American city to a six-month sojourn in Belize, God expands his pipeline to you.
When every attempt at bandaging a relationship seems only to widen the wound, God can still bring reconciliation.
When your joy at bringing friends to Christ turns into bewilderment as their friends and families start attacking you, God will be your defense.
When medical bills just keep racking up in a chain reaction, God’s pockets are still the deepest.
When you find yourself in limbo doing that thing that you thought God commanded, the divine wheels are still turning.
When that sin clings despite years of combat, God’s resources for the fight will only grow.
The apostle Paul describes a progressive journey – that part of the reason for each trial we face is preparation for the next one.
“Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10)
Don’t be surprised as things get harder despite your spiritual growth. Expect it. See it as a kind of backwards honor that the enemy feels threatened by what God is doing in you.
As you grow in Christ, Christ may sometimes seem to step back into the shadows for a while, as he did with Lucy. But that is not abandonment. They say that the teacher is always silent during the test. God sometimes pulls back to see how knowledgeable of his character you have become.
He will show up. His victories will grow in proportion to your challenges. He will guide you to the world’s end and to Aslan’s Country.
Man, now I wish I could find that boxed Narnia set that Mom got me. To think that there was a time I didn’t care for reading.