Tag Archives: CS Lewis

The Lion in Your Life

I am reading The Horse and His Boy to my son, Allen. I read it to Jessica a couple of years ago, but Allen wasn’t so interested in it at that time. We just finished The Last Battle a couple weeks ago and since then, he had been asking me to read him this one. So we have been reading a chapter every night. Again, as always happens with The Chronicles of Narnia, I am amazed and impressed by the deep truths that C. S. Lewis was able to interject into a series of “kids’ stories.”

This story follows the life of a boy named Shasta who, near the beginning, discovers that he is not the son of a Calormene fisherman and adventures his way with a talking horse, Bree, to Narnia. They meet up with a young noble girl, Aravis, and her talking horse, Hwin.

Their journey is full of excitement and danger, and time and again, they encounter lions — Bree’s greatest fear and not exactly Shasta’s idea of a good time.

Toward the end, Shasta is separated from his traveling companions. He is alone, at night, trying to find his way through a dense fog. Slowly, he becomes aware that Someone (or Something) is walking beside him. The conversation between him and the stranger goes like this:

“Who are you?” [Shasta] said, scarcely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you- are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!”
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them . …
“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 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 while 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.” …
“Who are you?” asked Shasta. 
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself”, loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself”, whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.
The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. … He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite easily now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun.
He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful. …
 He knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia. But after one glance at the Lion’s face he slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.
The High King above all kings stooped towards him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all round him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing. 

A thousand times, and more, I have faced difficult times, situations that broke my heart and I thought would break all hopes for a happy future. I wonder, though, how many were that Lion in my life.

And how many times, though I did not recognize it, He was there … giving me new strength, pushing me when I thought I couldn’t go any further, comforting me when I was alone, protecting me from harm.

Perhaps every single time. I like to think so.

Have you met Him? Have you seen His footprints in the ground after a dark and misty night? Or perhaps it is still night, and you sense Someone walking beside you. Believe that the sun will rise.

You will see clearly.

And you will know that He was with you every step of the way.

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No Other Stream

no other streamAlthough the sight of water made [Jill] feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason; just on this side of the stream lay the lion.

It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it … She knew at once that it had seen her, for it eyes looked straight into hers for a moment and then turned away– as if it knew her quite well and didn’t think much of her.

‘If I run away, it’ll be after me in a moment,’ thought Jill. ‘And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth.’ Anyway, she couldn’t have moved if she had tried, and she couldn’t take her eyes off it.

How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

‘If you’re thirsty, you may drink.’ … For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken.

Then the voice said again, ‘If you are thirsty, come and drink,’ and … she realized that it was the lion speaking.

… the voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in a rather different way.

‘Are you not thirsty?’ said the Lion.

‘I’m dying of thirst,’ said Jill

‘Then drink,’ said the Lion.

‘May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

‘Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?’ said Jill.

‘I make no promise,’ said the Lion.

Do you eat girls?’ she said.

‘I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’ said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

‘I daren’t come and drink,’ said Jill.

‘Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion.

‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’

‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion.”

–C.S. Lewis. The Silver Chair. (New York: Harper, 1953), 21–23.

Lion of the Tribe of Judah

It’s one of my first memories. I couldn’t have been more than three. Either my family was visiting friends, or they were visiting us. My mom and other adults were sitting around the kitchen table and, as parents often do when they’re trying to visit with friends, my mom had put a video on for us kids. It was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the old cartoon version.

If I was anything like my four-year-old son, I probably wasn’t tuning into the video, busy playing  instead. I don’t remember. I do remember the scene when the witch and her minions killed the lion. I was suddenly tuning in … and absolutely horrified. It was the saddest thing I had ever seen.

Somehow I knew the lion was good, that he didn’t deserve what was happening to him, and that he wasn’t fighting back. He just lay there helpless as they killed him.

I began to cry, deep and racking sobs and I ran to my mom, as kids often do when something is wrong, hoping she could kiss away the pain. But then I saw everyone sitting around and I remember reasoning that they would think I was silly, crying about a movie, and they would just tell me it wasn’t real.

But it was real, to me. Something was so real and so terrible about this Lion dying. And it broke my heart. That was all I remembered.

I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was 11.

I’m reading through the books with my children now. We’ve watched all the movies that have come out so far in the series, which started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I still get bleary-eyed when I read or watch the scene of Aslan’s death, although I know it’s just a movie. It’s just a book. At the same time, it’s so much more than merely a story. Maybe that’s what touched my heart when I was a child, the deep truth within the story.

A Lion who became a Lamb, who chose to die for a traitor, who allowed himself to be led to the slaughter, refusing to fight, refusing to defend himself, instead giving his life as a ransom.

Not just for one traitor, but for all.

I don’t remember watching the next scene when I was young, the part when he rose again. But he did. And it wasn’t just a story.

The tragic scene of that dark night transformed into a brilliant dawn, a dawn that saw the Lion live again, reclaim his throne, and reclaim his own.

The Lion of the tribe of Judah, who lives … in you … and in me.

He Lives in You

The sequel of a movie is rarely as good as the original. I’m not talking about trilogies, as they are generally designed to be more than one movie (except for the Matrix; they really could have stopped with the first one … but I’m digressing).

In any case, I never watch the sequel of Disney movies. I stopped after Pocahontas. (Actually, I stopped watching Disney movies altogether after Pocahontas. Can you get any further from a true story? Ack! … Digressing once again.)

So I never saw The Lion King 2. I never heard the song at the beginning of the movie until I found it quite by accident on youtube. Someone had merged it with clips from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It fit perfectly. In fact, it fit even better with that movie than it could possibly fit to anything else. How could you say

“He lives in you,

He lives in me,

He watches over

Everything we see”

about anyone but Him? Aslan, as a parallel to Jesus and a lion (but not a tame lion) fills the part perfectly.

So that’s why, instead of the usual style of music I post each week, I’m posting a Disney song. The first video below is “He Lives in You” with clips from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The second one is the same song with clips from Prince Caspian. Neither of them are of the best resolution. Feel free to comment if you find a better version on youtube (or want to make one).

Night and the spirit of life calling
And the voice with the fear of a child answers

Wait! There’s no mountain too great
Hear these words and have faith
Have faith

He lives in you, he lives in me 
He watches over everything we see
Into the waters, into the truth
In your reflection, he lives in you