Images of Faith and Discipleship in C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (5)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Vocation and Destiny
I conclude our series on images of faith and discipleship in the first of the Narnia stories, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by noting Lewis’ portrayal of vocation and destiny of the four Pevensie children to be the kings and queens of Narnia. He does this is several ways.
The first is to indicate that these children are the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. The White Witch’s insistent questioning of the Turkish Delight-enchanted Edmund on the number and gender of his siblings is our first clue.
“You are sure there are just four of you?” she asked. “Two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve, neither more nor less?” and Edmund, with his mouth full of Turkish Delight, kept on saying, “Yes, I told you that before.” (37)
Mr. Beaver, a good talking animal aligned with Aslan, recites one of the ancient prophecies about the children:
When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone
Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,
The evil time will be over and done. (81)
The first time the four children together get into Narnia through the magic wardrobe, Susan suggests they take some of the coats from there since it was winter in Narnia. Lewis writes,
The coats were rather too big for them so that they came down to their heels and looked more like royal robes than coats when they had put them on. But they all felt a good deal warmer and each thought the others looked better in their new getups and more suitable to the landscape. (55-56)
Royal robes, indeed – fit for the prospective kings and queens of Narnia! It is clear that Lewis intends us to see a royal vocation and a royal destiny for these human children.
This is instructive for us in two ways. First, this is our vocation and destiny as well according to scripture. In Genesis 1 we are created in God’s “image,” a part of whose meaning is that we are God’s royal representatives who are to protect creation and nurture it to its full flourishing. And in Revelation 22:5, at the close of the vision of God’s new creation, humanity is said “to reign forever and ever.”
Is this how we see our identity, our vocation, and our destiny?
I’ll save the second thing we can learn from this vocation and destiny of the four Pevensie children till we hear what happened to them after Aslan’s resurrection and the battle in which all the creatures she had turned to stone with her wand were restored to life to join Aslan in defeating the Witch and her minions. They were coronated kings and queens and took up their rule in Narnia. They governed in gentleness and with wisdom.
And they themselves grew and changed as the years passed over them. And Peter became a tall and deep-chested man and a great warrior, and he was called King Peter the Magnificent. And Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell almost to her feet and the kings of the countries beyond the sea began to send ambassadors asking for her hand in marriage. And she was called Susan the Gentle. Edmund was a graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgment. He was called King Edmund the Just. But as for Lucy, she was always gay and golden-haired, and all princes in those parts desired her to be their Queen, and her own people called her Queen Lucy the Valiant. (183-184)
We learn from this, I think, that “salvation” is bigger than we often think. It has two aspects, both of which essential, but only one we often focus on. First, God reclaims us from the bondage and unfreedom of sin into which we have fallen. This is where we usually focus and what we mean when we claim that “Jesus Saves.” Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and that we can go to heaven when we die. Lewis pictures this in the “un-stoning” and return to life of the creatures after Aslan’s resurrection.
But that Lewis goes on to tell of the subsequent reign of the children in Narnia points to the second, and neglected, aspect of salvation. God not only reclaims us but also restores us to the dignity and vocation granted humanity in creation. This vocation is our destiny. We will spend eternity, not in heaven floating around singing in a celestial choir forever, but rather “reigning,” that is, caring for the new creation and each other in unhindered communication, communion, and community with God forever!
If we grasp and internalize this fuller vision of salvation, we will discover what is our true task here and now, between the time of Jesus’ resurrection and return in glory. We are to begin our reign! We are to live out of and live out Jesus’ victory today, tomorrow, and every tomorrow God grants till kingdom come!