I’m escaping into Narnia these days, eager to dwell elsewhere for a while. Not because my reality is unfavorable but rather because my imagination is crying for nourishment and expression. So I’ll feed it here, with Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, and of course, Aslan.
In book #4 in the Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian, the siblings have been suddenly and unexpectedly called to Narnia because a battle is about to break out and the talking animals and dwarves need their help. The kids arrive and quickly learn why they have been summoned so they take off with Trumpkin, the dwarf sent to find them, to search for the quickest route before it is too late.
They come to the edge of a small precipice and find themselves looking down into a gorge with a river at the bottom. On the far side there are cliffs that rise much higher. Standing there they are quite unsure whether to go up to the cliffs or down the side of the gorge, which looks so much easier from their viewpoint. Lucy looks up and who should she see but Aslan peering at her from the heights! She immediately understands that he wants them to take that upper route and she speaks out to the others her desire to follow him. But after a quick discussion and a vote, three of the four say no. They can’t see Aslan and it looks much clearer and easier the other way so they ignore Lucy’s imploring tears and she follows them, grieving the whole way.
You can imagine the outcome of their plan and the eventual turn around and the meeting up with Aslan at a later time.
When Lucy and Aslan finally get a chance to talk, Aslan challenges Lucy concerning her decision to follow the group rather than doing what she knew he wanted her to do. She hadn’t even thought of that! But, if she truly loved and trusted Aslan, she realized that she should have followed him even if the others refused.
This little piece of the plot makes me think back to my own desire to follow Jesus. I looked for signs and hoped for a face that would guide me securely in the direction I should go.
Which college should I go to after Waldorf, my wonderful two-year college?
Should I travel with an international Lutheran Youth Encounter team after my college graduation? Which one?
Which teaching offer should I take? The one in Minneapolis or the smaller one in Cedar Rapids?
Is this young man, the one who keeps calling me, the one I should marry? How can I know?
I can tell you that I never saw a lion in the clouds compelling me to follow him…or Jesus for that matter. But I did pray with all my heart that he would guide me in whichever direction I ended up going.
And He did. Looking back I see his face in every decision and in every next step.
The way I see it, he is always with me, even today he is right here holding my heart and helping me find my way.
The Psalmist claims in Psalm 121, “The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
After Moses died, the LORD told Joshua to to cross the Jordan River and head on in to the land he had promised them so many years before. He said these words: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”. God was with him wherever he went.
I believe the LORD who talked with Joshua and the one who the psalmist is speaking of is the same God who lives in us today. He is with me. He is with you. He guides in mysterious ways. He leads gently and quietly, but his presence is clearly seen when we look back on what he has done and where he has led.
What decision are you on the precipice of today? Are you looking for a sign? Do you wonder which way God wants you to go?
Here’s my suggestion. Pray. Tell him that you need him. Wait for him. Open the door and invite him in. Silently sit with him and lay out the question on the table. Enjoy being with him. Rest with him. Trust that he is with you. You are not alone in the room. Do your best to make the best decision.
Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy and Trumpkin eventually come face to face with the Lion and each has to do business with their decision not to follow him earlier. But they are all met with love and grace as he continues to guide them in the direction they needed to go. I love the picture. It is for each of us as we make daily decisions. It may be in regard to our thoughts, our words, our attitudes or our actions. It may be a job decision, a house to buy, or to which college to send our kids. He wants to be sought, invited and followed.
The Holy Spirit is in us, leading and guiding, and yes, loving us all the way.