There’s a wintery-forest scene I’ve always loved. It involves beavers, the talking kind, and four children wrapped up in wonder. In his book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis has the Beavers on a mission—to get to the children before the White Witch. There’s little time, so Mr. Beaver pads his way through the deep Narnian snow. Susan sees him first. He moves so quickly, it’s hard to tell who or what he is, until he stops long enough to beckon them closer, deeper into the woods. There, where nobody can overhear their conversation, Mr. Beaver gives them some news that changes their lives forever:
It added in a low whisper—“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed.” And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different (67).
The news came to the children in the privacy of some thick trees, but as I sat in the cafeteria for another beginning of the year staff meeting, I swear I could hear Mr. Beaver whispering those words to me: “Aslan is on the move!”
It was August, so functioning coherently in the early morning was not something most of us were used to after our summer hibernation. Some teachers nibbled on donuts, sharing stories of summer adventures while others poured a little more coffee desperately trying to wake up.
“Okay, we’re gonna get started, so if you could find your seats.” Kevin’s voice broke through the hum of conversation echoing off the concrete walls, and we sat down. Being the principal, he ran through some goals, talking about test scores and the plan for the day, but he was waiting to tell us the good news.
With a big smile, he finally asked, “Has anyone seen the teacher’s lounge?” Teachers started to turn to each other and whisper. He paused, letting the drama build.
“Earlier this summer, some people from Discovery Church asked if there was a way they could support the teachers who work here.” He was pacing, walking with the microphone in between rows of tables, and all eyes were following him. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to say.” His face was starting to light up.
“After letting me sit there in shock, they had a suggestion. They asked, ‘What would you say to us renovating the teacher’s lounge,’ and I said, ‘Well, YES!’” He shouted the last two words, and everyone laughed.
“What makes this deal kinda special for me is that the man leading this project worked with me twenty years ago. I coached his son.” Heather pushed a button on the computer, and on the screen was a picture of a boy sitting next to a man on a backhoe. “That’s my son sitting next to Larry.”
Kevin may not have a flat tail or whiskers, but as he talked about his connection with Larry Lathrop and the new teacher’s lounge, he spoke with the same delight, even awe, of Mr. Beaver. Lewis writes that the four children felt different when they heard the good news, and something felt different in us too. Like this Aslan, this majestic lion that is dangerous but good, the absurdity of love walked into our building, and we didn’t know what to do with it.
Three weeks later, we received an email invitation to the official grand opening of our new “oasis”. Some of the staff from the church would be there, and they were bringing pizza.
Most teachers don’t have to be asked twice to a meeting with free food. We poured in through the doors. The pizza was enticing, but so was the love of these people. The boxes of food and the cold drinks were spread out on the new countertops. We walked across the freshly-laid carpet and sat in comfortable seats to eat around the shiny, wood conference table.
Then, Kevin introduced the pastor of the church. Pastor Greg Lindsey stepped forward. His body language was gentle—hands in his pockets and eyes on the floor. There was a softness in his voice. “We’re here because we want to support you. When we asked Mayor Suthers where the city most needed help, he brought up at-risk youth and homelessness. You guys see both.” He pointed to the freshly painted walls and the new sink. “This room is our way of supporting what you do. There are no strings attached.” A smile was growing on his face when he said, “You don’t even have to come to our church or listen to my sermons online.” The room exploded with laughter, and then looking at all of us smiling back at him, he finished with, “We just appreciate what you do for kids.”
There’s a sign in the new room that reads, “Discovery Church loves Doherty,” and when anyone pouring a cup of coffee or heating up some lunch reads it, they know it’s true. The actions of the people who made that sign proved it. John writes, “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). The word “love” is tossed around so loosely, but when it comes through actions, it stirs the heart. We all felt that stirring. Even though it was August, we felt like kids at Christmas. And why not? Christmas is rooted in love.
When Aslan came to Narnia, he brought Christmas back. His presence changed everything, and there’s something happening in our city, a presence of something good, something like Aslan, that’s making Colorado Springs feel a little like Narnia. Bunkbeds are being built for foster kids, organizations are rising up to stop teen suicide, and the homeless are being invited into warm places for meals.
Mr. Beaver was right. Aslan is on the move, but he’s not a lion in a fictional world. He’s real. His name is Jesus, and whether He’s unveiling His love in a manger filled with hay or in a renovated room bustling with teachers, He offers an invitation. Yes, we can sit back in awe, stirred up like children with the wonder of what He’s done, but His love doesn’t stop there. It stirs inside us with a relentless Spirit, moving us toward action, and it won’t be satisfied until you and I roll up our sleeves, step out of what’s comfortable and join Him.