The boys and I started the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia series a few nights ago.
The Last Battle may end up being my favorite one of all 7 books.
The book opens up with lies and treachery taking hold in the last days of Narnia. An ugly, sinister ape named Shift is ruthlessly manipulating his "friend", a donkey named Puzzle. They discover a lion's skin floating in Caldron Pool and Shift gets an idea....the donkey dressed up in a lion's suit could pass for Aslan, the Great Lion, Lord of the whole wood. Then Shift will rule the country as his spokesperson.
Shift tricks this wary, but ultimately trusting donkey into believing that Aslan commands him to wear the lion skin, and that if he wears it he'll be just like Aslan and everyone will obey him.
The donkey submits to the evil plot and all Narnia begins to fall into ruin. Shift forms an alliance with a neighboring country who doesn't fear the true Aslan, but worships other gods. They work together to overtake Narnia and the residents are enslaved and some put to death.
The worst part is that the peaceful Narnians are tricked into believing that this is all Aslan's will. They think that they must have done something terribly wrong for Aslan to punish them in this dreadful way. The Narnians are confused because although he is a lion, the new "Aslan" speaks and acts much differently than the Aslan they've always known.
Instead of relying on what they know of Aslan, they are deceived by what they see and hear and are confused. They don't realize that things are not what they seem.
They've forgotten who Aslan really is and have fallen deeply into deception.
By now word had reached Tirian, King of Narnia. He set off to help, just he and his faithful unicorn, enraged at the news of the murders of Narnian creatures and, despite the warnings to wait for reinforcement. The king was shocked to find things exactly as they were told to him; some creatures dying, others being enslaved, destruction to the country, all in the name of "Aslan."
Tirian acted in rage and killed 2 men who were brutally beating one of the talking Narnian creatures. Then the king was stripped of his sword, armor and crown by the evil ape, taken away, bound, and awaited what was assuredly to be his death.
As day turned to night and the king was bound to a tree, he watched, in horror, what had become a nightly ritual here. Up on the hillside a red fire blazed in the darkness as Shift brought Puzzle, dressed in the lion's suit out for all of Narnia to see. Shift, as this fake Aslan's spokesperson, continued to spin his dark web of lies and bondage. The Narnians cried out in deep despair. And as quickly as the show began it ended without a glimmer of the Aslan the country knew and loved.
And this is only chapter 4.
After reading these chapters, I began to think of times when we've been through heartbreaking challenges, like miscarriages, Samuel's diagnosis and financial trouble. It was so tempting to get caught up in what we saw and heard...the empty crib, the doctor's reports, the pile of bills and the sparse cupboards. Looking at and listening to those things can plummet you into deep despair.
Focusing on the problems can make you forget who Jesus is...and even question if He is.
Surely that's what's happened here with the Narnian's, they've forgotten who Aslan is. They're faced with devastating destruction, murder and slavery. They see "Aslan" and although they find him to be quite different than the Aslan they've known, they're tricked into believing that this is the Great Lion and that His will is to harm them and therefore steal their hopes and dreams.
They've been deceived.
But, there's one who is not a believer in this "Aslan", no matter the lion he just saw in the firelight. And, as Tirian stood bound against that tree in the darkness hope began to arise as he recounted generations of kings who came before him. All who had spoken of great adventures, challenges to their reign and the ultimate victories. Aslan had always been good to Narnia and had always caused them to triumph. Aslan had brought rescue to the king's ancestors. He showed them love and ruled in peace.
"Aslan-and the children from another world," thought Tirian. "They have always come in when things were at their worst."
Therefore, he knew this lion with Shift could not be the true Aslan.
So he began to cry out "Aslan! Aslan! Aslan! Come and help us now."
And that's when it began to change.
Tirian immediately slipped into what he thought was a dream and saw the children Aslan had used to help his ancestors to victory in the old days of Narnia. When he awoke, they appeared to him there at the tree. Sent from this world into that far away world as a rescue team from Aslan.
Aslan heard Tirian's cry, a cry he could have only sent up as one not willing to believe what he presently saw or heard, but as one willing to believe what he knew of the testimonies and victories of the past.
And he was heard.
So, today, instead of focusing on the trials you presently see and hear, choose to focus on what you know of Jesus. Recount the victories He's given you in the past. Recall the victories He's given to your friends and family. Remind yourself of His ways by reading His story of love and redemption in the Bible.
Do this and let faith and hope arise.
Then call on Him and watch how He rescues you.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1 (niv)
Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday?
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.