The kids and I read together most days after school. Our most recent selection is The Magician's Nephew, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series (yep, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is book two.)
We are about three quarters through it, and I am so moved by every chapter. Midway through, the main characters find themselves in an unformed world. All is blackness and nothing has been created. But suddenly, to the most beautiful song they've ever heard, creation begins. Light, darkness, earth, stars, sun, then plants and animals. Sound familiar? The onlookers (including us, the readers) watch as a majestic Lion roams this new world and sings everything into being. His name is Aslan, and it's pretty obvious that He is God in Narnia. Jesus, to be exact (which is made more clear in book two).
Finally, Aslan summons the animals, and those upon which He breathes gain the ability to speak. He then speaks, himself, and is clearly initiating and beautifying all of creation in this new world.
The two children watching, Digory and Polly, hear and see all of this take place as it actually does. However the character Uncle Andrew, their travelling companion, does not. The author, C.S. Lewis, describes Uncle Andrew's experience like this:
When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn't singing and never had been singing - only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world...And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring...He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan's song. Soon he couldn't have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, "Narnia awake," he didn't hear any words: he heard only a snarl.
A person's beliefs can change everything. Most importantly, they can change one's perception of what's real and true. I love how Lewis is demonstrating this truth through Uncle Andrew's disastrous disbelief and resulting inability to hear Aslan's voice.
Our intellect can really interfere with our faith, can't it? Whether in a childish story or a real world conflict, what we believe about God quickly becomes the lens through which we experience all of life.
If I believe God is distant and disinterested, I am not likely to listen for His voice. That lie will steal my faith.
If I believe God may not be for me, if I think He may be playing a little disaster roulette with my circumstances, I will walk in fear and rely on control. That lie will steal my trust.
If I believe my brokenness is beyond repair, I will live bound to accusation and shame.That lie will steal my hope.
If I believe I have to earn God's love and perform for His approval, I will live with constant anxiety. That lie will steal my peace.
If I believe that God can't or won't speak to me, I will only hear roaring.
Jesus is in the constant business of forming my world. He builds, grows, and changes the scenery. He whispers to me, "Leslie, awake! I'm doing something new. Don't you see it?" And depending on the condition of my heart, I either recognize His voice, or I only hear roaring. By roaring, I mean the clamor of life: phones ringing, people complaining, stress whirling, everything demanding. It's all very loud.
The grace is that He keeps speaking. Keeps creating, working, and breathing life into me. Grace draws me away from the chaos to a softer place, a quieter place in my spirit. When I choose to spend time with Him, I can finally hear His voice, loving and clear. There, He opens my eyes to see what's real and true.
The question is how long I can stay there without letting the world harden my heart and dull my ears again. The ones who see and understand Aslan from the start have the secret: a childlike faith. It's so perfect and glorious that the unhindered, wonder-filled children can take in who Aslan is better than anyone in the story.
Belief is a very powerful thing. Uncle Andrew's belief - really, his disbelief - caused him to miss the whole point. When we finished our chapter yesterday, we left him overwhelmed with fear, running for his life away from the animals. The beasts were all running toward him to greet him, but his beliefs caused him to interpret everything wrongly. He is portrayed as the token fool, and his character is a cautionary tale. The wrong beliefs will eventually send you running in fear.
The right beliefs mean everything. And they start with faith like a child. I don't need to understand everything first. I don't need to clean things up first. I need simply to come to Him with a sincere heart that says, "Speak Lord, your daughter is listening."
And then believe that He will.