Who Grew? The Gospel According to Aslan
Though The Chronicles of Narnia were not written or intended to be an allegory (C. S. Lewis was ferociously adamant about this), they are replete with Christian imagery and allusion, which Lewis readily acknowledged.
As we become more devoted disciples, and as we disciple others toward deeper faith and understanding, a scene from Prince Caspian (the book, not the movie … never, never the movie) illustrates this in a profound way.
The Pevensie kids are back in Narnia after several years in jolly old England, where unfortunately no one had yet started Young Life. They are their normal ages again, not the adults they’d grown into during their previous Narnian life, which must have been a terrible thing for them. Just imagine having been a king or queen, taken seriously by other adults, engaged in significant and meaningful tasks and adventures, only to have it all whisked away after being dragged back home. Let’s never do this to kids when camp is over, okay? Let’s keep taking them seriously, keep engaging them in significant and meaningful tasks and adventures, and keep reminding them of who they really are. Back to the story.
On their way to rescue the Narnians from that stinker Miraz and his wicked nasty army, the children find themselves utterly lost in an overgrown forest. Alas, being back in Narnia and living like a true Narnian isn’t quite as easy as they’d expected. They quickly feel dejected, tired and hopeless.
At their very lowest moment, when it seems clear that their long-anticipated return is not going to be the mountain-top swashbuckling experience they’d hoped for, Aslan appears to Lucy, the youngest and most devoted of the siblings.
“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.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“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.”
And there you have. That’s the magic moment. That’s the profound truth That’s the mid-chapter dialogue that should cause every reader to stop, catch their breath, and gasp at the sheer simplicity yet total mystery of growing closer to Jesus.
As we move more closely toward Jesus, gain deeper understanding of Jesus, develop more intimacy with Jesus, abide more fully in Jesus, more consistently display the love that comes from Jesus, and allow ourselves to be more completely guided by Jesus, shouldn’t we expect to feel a bit bigger — maybe not in stature, but for sure in wisdom, spiritual maturity and faith?
Isn’t that the point? To grow up into the full likeness of Jesus, becoming mature believers instead of needy babies who only fuss for milk and then conk off in long naps?
Yes, that’s the point. But the outworking of it, like all of discipleship, is a complicated paradox:
We find freedom by being fully dependent.
We find joy by embracing suffering.
We find fullness of life by emptying ourselves.
We find hope by acknowledging our helplessness.
And we grow not by becoming bigger ourselves but by recognizing God’s endless so-much-bigger-than-us-ness.
The more we know of Jesus, the more we realize how much we in fact don’t know. The more we become like Him, the more we realize how utterly unlike Him we still are. The more we experience Him, the more we realize how little we’ve actually experienced up to that point.
For our entire earthly life of discipleship, Jesus should seem continually bigger and BIGGER and BIGGER.
If Jesus seems the same size as when you first met Him, or the same size as last year, or even the same size as last week or yesterday or this morning, it’s time to re-enter the world of His supernatural reality, which is our true home.
May our prayer for both ourselves and those we disciple be simply this: “Lord, help us forever see and experience You as bigger than before.”
The authorized (and only) correct reading order of The Chronicles of Narnia:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magician’s Nephew
The Last Battle
Crystal Kirgiss (firstname.lastname@example.org)