After two years of focused theological study I realized my soul needed a good story. It’s not that I don’t love reading theology, but during this season I wanted something different to stir my heart. I knew any old story wouldn’t work; no, it was time for a fairy tale.What better fairy tale than C.S. Lewis’ classic masterpiece The Chronicles of Narnia to awaken my heart?
As a child, I never read The Chronicles of Narnia. As a matter of fact, I never read fairy tales. Much like Lucy Barfield, Lewis’ granddaughter, I had outgrown fairy tales all too quickly. Thus, his words to Lucy in his dedication were all too timely, “But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” That day had finally come for me. Little did I know how deeply I would be impressed by this fairy tale and the truths it directed me towards.
In The Chronicles of Narnia, I quickly discovered a world so magical and captivating that adequately explaining the impression it had upon me is difficult. It’s like a delicious secret only to be savored by those who have taken the journey through Lewis’ fairy tale, by those who have stared Aslan in the eyes. I could give excerpt after excerpt that resonated with my soul, but seven articles couldn’t contain them all. Perhaps the words found within those excerpts should be reserved for persons brave enough to take their own journey into Narnia.
Instead I will present two overarching reasons why this series of books left a profound impression upon me and why I am convinced that every person—young and old—should read The Chronicles of Narnia to drive them towards maturity as a disciple.
The Depiction of Aslan Directs Your Heart Towards Christ
The way in which Lewis portrays Aslan is glorious! He first appears on the scene as the One who sings Narnia into existence. The reader discovers he is a Lion, but no ordinary lion. His mane is like gold, his eyes radiant energy, his voice causes the ground to shake and tremble. He is resplendent and terrifying and wonderful all at once! Children can know him intimately and yet he is mysterious beyond the magician’s knowledge. He is always at work, but he never does the same thing twice. He can defeat his enemies with a single paw, but walks willingly to his own death. The reader understands that when you come face to face with Aslan you forget about everything else.
Magical Lions don’t exist. Yet, there is a true story about a real Lion that this one points us to. Lewis draws so heavily from the biblical depiction of Jesus when forming Aslan’s character, I could not help but think of Jesus as I read about the Great Lion. The parallels are striking. Every time Aslan appears on the page and does what only Aslan can do, your heart is directed toward the true Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who has done what only he can do (Rev. 5:1-14).
My affections were stirred afresh for Jesus in wonderful, childlike ways during my time in Narnia. I was reminded that I serve a King who isn’t safe, who isn’t tame, but is good beyond comprehension. It brought to remembrance my own story of encountering the Lion for the first time and all of the adventures that have ensued since. It softened my heart towards Jesus and his perfect work on my behalf. Essentially, I found that reading about Aslan presented me with wonderful opportunities to meditate upon Christ.
The Depiction of Narnia Directs Your Heart Towards the Eternal
From the creation of Narnia in book one until the revealing of the “real Narnia” in book seven I was enamored with this land. Narnia—the land Aslan sang into existence, the land where children rule as kings and queens, and the land that houses talking beasts. Oh Narnia! How I loved your hospitable beavers and friendly fauns. How I longed to partake of a hot meal by Mrs. Beaver or witness a sunset laced with colors seen only in Narnia.
Something about Narnia in all seven books points you towards the eternal. It causes you to long for something transcendent, something more. Yet, in book seven, when the old Narnia gives way to the real Narnia, the words of the Unicorn are piercing, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.”
As I read those words, I felt hot tears fill my eyes which splashed onto the page. The unicorns words resonated with my own longing for my true home. I, like so many of you, know what it’s like to feel out of place while searching for satisfaction in a fallen world. I know what it’s like to long for my real country, my real home.
These words reminded me that one day I’ll close my eyes for a final time and open them to discover that I have finally come home, finally arrived at the land I have looked for all my life. So often we are afraid of death, terrified of eternity, and anxious about the unknown, but we must remember that our future land is not unknown. It’s home! It’s the land we’ve longed for all along! Thus, this fairy tale directs us forward towards the true reality we will one day experience in Jesus’ consummated kingdom.
Narnia made a lasting impression on me at a mature level, but that doesn’t mean it’s reserved for adults. If you are a parent, I encourage you to read this series to your children at the appropriate age and use it as a springboard to talk about Jesus and eternity. It gives children a framework in which they can think about Christ and the new heaven and earth in a way that is real and concrete to them. Even if they don’t understand all of the implications Lewis is making, the idea of this glorious Lion living in a perfect land will stay with them until one day (just like Lucy and me) they will return to savor the parallels more fully. May you and your family grow in your love for Jesus and his eternal kingdom as you read The Chronicles of Narnia together!
Whitney Woollard is passionate about equipping others to read and study God’s Word well resulting maturing affection for Christ and his glorious gospel message. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary. Whitney and her husband Neal currently live in Portland, OR where they call Hinson Baptist Church home. Visit her writing homepage whitneywoollard.com.