That ink on paper has power to produce both joy and tears is a wonder to me. Yet such is our experience as we walk the winding path a master story-teller blazes for us.
Even as a child, Lewis’ mastery was not lost on me as my heart ached with an unknown longing each time the Pevensie children left the bright lands of Narnia and found themselves enveloped by the grey weariness of England. Gone was the vibrancy and joyful melody of that land beyond the wardrobe, replaced instead with the drab colours and mournful dirge of reality. As a student of the soul, Lewis was connecting with the shared experience of longing, and the common ache of mourning that which has been lost. Somehow, to my young mind, it seemed wrong that anyone should say goodbye to Narnia. Why couldn’t the feasting and dancing last forever? Why did the story need to end?
Yet we know it must be so. Our own story confirms what Lewis told us to be true.
The sunset of bright days are followed by dark seasons of the soul. Songs of joy sung in the morning, are replaced with groaning of spirit in the evening.
Some would lead you to believe that these dark seasons of the soul are a symptom of faithlessness and doubt. Granted, self-directed wandering often leads us into dark days, but heavy clouds on the horizon aren’t always harbingers of doom. False teachers paint pictures of eternal sunshine, green meadows, and gentle winding paths, but the Great Shepherd instructs us otherwise.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. — John 17:33
It may be that you walk in a season of darkness right now, recalling better days and mourning that which has been lost. It may be that you sit in the cold rain of reality, recalling the sunshine and sweet days of Narnia. In these times, it is easy to take the position of enduring the present while longing for yesterday. But the gospel says, abide in the present while waiting for tomorrow.
Abiding in the present while waiting for tomorrow
Take heart; I have overcome the world.
It is no small thing that Jesus asked us to “take heart”, he knows our tendency to bemoan the tribulation of our life, to wish for brighter days, and recall happier times. So to our downcast soul he speaks, “take heart”.
It may be that Peter recalled these very words as he encouraged the persecuted believers when he said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” And it is to Peter we can turn to as we learn how we can abide in the present while waiting for tomorrow.
1 Peter 1:3-9 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Peter lifts our downcast eyes to focus, not on the joys of yesterday, but instead on the glorious realities of tomorrow. Yes, we may sit in dreary days of cold stinging rain, but once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia. Tribulation is real—we should not be surprised by it—but it is not our defining reality. We have a living hope, an imperishable inheritance, and a secure salvation.
Dark days will come, but these are just ‘a little while’, days not to simply endure, but to rejoice in—days to abide in as we wait for tomorrow. Our waiting in the darkness isn’t simply a sufferance, but is essential in the preparation for brighter days, days filled with the praise and glory and honour of the revealed Saviour.
I know you don’t see him now, but you will.
Lewis was a master at taking the helm of my heart’s emotions, plunging me into longing at the close of every adventure in Narnia. Yet, as I closed the cover on one, I knew another adventure awaited, and when his last adventure came to an end, there were no more cold and dreary days, no more waiting for tomorrow, only bright and joyful days without end.
Take heart brother, take heart sister, joy comes in the morning. We are children of the overcoming King.