When I was young, I read C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” starting with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Dawn Treader. Each book was better than the last as the sympathetic Lucy took on great adventure, battled evil, loved Aslan, and became queen. The saga then took a terrible, terrible turn. The four remaining stories would not star Lucy, not include Lucy, not even have an appearance by Lucy until the very end of the Narnia itself. My tiny 10-year-old mind was blown.
It took me several years and maybe two more reads to realize the true hero of the story was not any of the main characters at all; it was not any of the kids, not any of the kings and queens. It was, of course, The Lion. I know. I’m slow on the uptake, but I’ve grown up, and I have a good grasp of the obvious now.
Or do I?
Pulpit Rock’s current sermon series “Follow Me” started on January 7 with a simple line drawing of a circle. Thomas explained the boundary-set model which focuses on who is inside of the circle (proper followers of Christ) and who is not. This model made complete sense to me. Maybe I’m very judgmental about who is in the circle, maybe I’m not. But the raw truth is that I order the world around myself. Without thinking, I am the center of my story, God is made in my image, and other proper Christians conveniently resemble me.
Then Thomas drew another simple picture that blew my tiny adult mind. The centered-set model puts Jesus in the middle—sans circle. It’s focused on the person of Christ not on the boundaries that keep people in or out. He is the anchor, the target, the center of the story. People are simply moving toward him or not.
You would think Thomas’ second picture would have been obvious to me, a lifelong Christian. Just like Lucy is not the center of Narnia, I am not the center of the story either. My worries? Me-focused. But my prayers? Christ-focused. My comparisons? Me-focused. But my trust? Christ-focused. This worldview doesn’t come naturally to me, but it does feel right.
In the Chronicles of Narnia’s A Horse and His Boy, the young protagonist (not Lucy) faces a lion he doesn’t yet know. Tears stream down his cheeks as his life has been one hardship after another—lost his father, taken in by an abuser, chased by lions, forced to swim for his life, wounded, starving, thirsty.
“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion.” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two lions the first night, and -”
“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
Christ is the center of the story whether we recognize it or not. Following him moves us into the harbor of his mysterious love, care, and hope. My comparisons, evaluations, and judgment (oh, the judgment) are not needed or frankly even invited. I’m not the queen of this story—I’m the beloved heir—so I am free when the true Heart of the story says, “Follow me!”
Written by a member of Pulpit Rock