December 22 | C.S. LewisWritten by University Communications
For those of us in Texas, we love winter, mainly because it is so short. We have a few ice stir storms and maybe a couple of days of snow, but for the most part, it turns cold for a few months and goes away…barely disrupting our daily lives.
“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'"
– Revelation 21:3
Read: Revelation 21:1-5
But for folks up north, winter is a different matter, especially long winters. I remember my second year in the Chicago area working on a master’s degree. It snowed in early November, and I didn’t see grass again until the end of March. What began as a magical experience became a dreary mess. It seemed like winter would never end.
In his famous children’s story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis uses this image as a way to describe the dreary state of Narnia without its true King on the throne. Without Aslan, the world remained in a constant state of hopelessness.
This reality in many ways characterized Lewis’ life prior to meeting Jesus.
A native of Belfast, Ireland, Lewis lost his mother to cancer when he was ten years old, and afterwards his father withdrew emotionally from he and his siblings. Subsequently, his father enrolled him in a boarding school under the rule of a principal who had unknowingly suffered a mental illness and treated the children severely.
Given these harsh conditions, Lewis decided at about the age of 14 to reject the notion of God because the only god he experienced was a cruel and ruthless tyrant. For Lewis, it was better to be an atheist and remove God from the equation than to worship such a deity.
While he suffered immensely as a child, he found his escape in literature and would often create grand and imaginative stories with his brother, Warren. These included worlds filled with talking animals and long, illustrious histories.
In 1914, war broke out across Europe, and for 5 years, death and destruction became common place. At the age of 18, Lewis enlisted in the army, after only one year of college at Oxford. Experiencing every bit of the harsh realities of battle, he survived the war but suffered injuries both physical and emotional, including the loss of his closest friend, Paddy Moore.
After the war, he returned to University College in Oxford where he excelled in his study of literature. Soon, he was named a teaching fellow at Magdalen College and began to publish his poetry.
He also befriended a fellow teacher named J. R. R. Tolkien, with whom he would take long walks discussing literature and philosophy in the evenings there on the college grounds. During one of these walks, Lewis’ heart began to change. A devout atheist, he began to question whether or not there really was a God, and by the evening’s end, he made his change to believing in a God, although not yet ready to embrace Christianity.
The turn to Christianity came some two years later in the most unlikely of places—the sidecar of a motorcycle. Riding with Warren to a zoo, Lewis claims that when he began the ride he did not believe in Jesus, and by the end, he did. That’s some interesting journey!
For Lewis, Christianity just made sense. It was as much of a heart change as it was an intellectual change. In fact, after his heart softened to consider the claims of Christ, his mind felt compelled to believe them. It was almost as if the winter was passing and spring had begun.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen,” Lewis once told a group of scholars, “not only because I see it but by it I see everything else.”
After his conversion, Lewis became perhaps one of the most influential apologists of the 20th Century, producing such wonderful works as Surprised by Joy, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, and of course, Mere Christianity.
Perhaps his most popular work is his Chronicles of Narnia series, a magical tale of good overcoming evil, all serving as an allegory for the Christian life. The Christ figure in the tale is the incredible Aslan, the Lion King of Narnia whose absence in the second book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, had allowed the White Witch to step in and create a perpetual winter.
Yet as the heroes of the story—Peter, Susan, Edward, and Lucy—arrive in Narnia, things begin to change because “Aslan is on the move.”
In the book, the children are befriended by Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who kindly took them in and provided assistance along the way. As they travel across Narnia, they begin to notice changes in the landscape as the harsh winter began to fade and a sleigh approached in the distance.
“Come and see! This is a nasty knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling,” exclaims Mr. Beaver, who is dancing with delight.
“Didn’t I tell you,” he continued, “that she’d made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn’t I tell you? Well just come and see.”
They were surprised to see on the sleigh Father Christmas, who came just in time to provide them gifts for the harsh journey that lay ahead. Christmas had arrived, and all would soon change!
Of course, we know the story from here, how Aslan’s victory over the witch came through a “deeper magic” that involved sacrifice for sinners and how Aslan’s resurrection brought new life to the world and all who trusted in him.
What a marvelous depiction of the change that overcomes our lives as Christ enters the scene and melts the coldness of our hearts.
He melted Lewis’ heart in the same way. Once a man who rejected the very thought of God, Lewis grew enamored with Christ and became one of the most outspoken and thoughtful apologists of the Christian world.
What is the temperature of your heart this season? Are you stuck in perpetual winter, never seeing the end? Then, friend, let me tell you, Aslan is on the move and Christmas is almost here.
This season, let the King of Narnia enter into your life and melt the snow. Let Him make all things new. Let spring arrive as we worship Christ the Lord!