I am in the process of re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. In doing so, I have been re-enamored with Lewis’ depiction of Aslan, the allegorical depiction of Christ. It is fascinating to read how each character reacts to Aslan in a different way throughout the series. I think of Digory, Polly, and the Cabby in The Magician’s Nephew, who, hearing Aslan’s voice, “had open mouths and shining eyes; they were drinking in the sound, and they looked as if it reminded them of something” (Lewis 62). In contrast, Uncle Andrew reacted with fear and the Witch in complete hatred. Then, as Digory approaches Aslan, he finds that he is “bigger and more beautiful and more brightly golden and more terrible than he had thought. He dared not look into the great eyes” (Lewis 79). In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the children had not yet met Aslan, at the mention of his name, their hearts lept within them. In Lewis’ carefully crafted words, “At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer” (141). Perhaps my fascination with Lewis’ illustration of the intimate relationship of Aslan to each character is merely literary taste, but I tend to believe it carries greater significance.
Several times over the past few weeks, Doc Dusseau has mentioned the human tendency to “meet with our habit instead of meeting with our God” in prayer, or devotions, or reading Scripture. Each time, I cringe, knowing that I too fall prey to this task-driven view of Christianity. If I do the right things, if I read my Bible every morning, if I pray, then I have a relationship with God? What? The very idea is audacious when we compare it to a human relationship. That would be like saying if I text my boyfriend once a day, call him on weekends, and tag him in a picture or post on Facebook every once in awhile, that we have a relationship. That’s crazy! Why then do I think that is how it works with God? Unfortunately, fixing the problem isn’t always as easy as identifying the problem.
How do I move from reading my Bible because I know I should to meeting with God because I want to? How do I go from an ambivalent view of my Savior to a living relationship? One of the things I find fascinating in Lewis’ depiction of Aslan is that he cannot be ignored. Even those who are antagonistic towards him are just that, they are antagonistic. His voice, his presence, even his name demands recognition. To the children who had never heard of Aslan, the very sound of his name elicited an inner response of fear, desire, strength, or joy. Can I claim to know God and yet be apathetic towards his name? It sounds preposterous.
So last night, lying on my hammock, instead of reciting a list of prayer requests for friends who are hurting, ill, or otherwise in need of prayer, I merely laid there, asking God to break through my religion and my task-driven mentality that I might “draw near to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). For the first time in weeks, I experienced the awe and joy of tossing aside the to-do lists and schedules to spend time just spending time in the presence of God. And even a taste of that leaves a desire for more. Maybe, just maybe, like Lucy and her siblings’s enthrallment with the Aslan of C.S. Lewis’ creation, my heart can once again be consumed by the living God.