For many of us, the Chronicles of Narnia was our first real glimpse at a world beyond this one, and for many it was also the beginning of a journey into the impossible. Of course, to really see the impossible, one must first see the possible. Perhaps that is why C.S. Lewis chose children to represent his Kings and Queens. Perhaps that is why the beginning of his first book was set in the middle of a war. Or perhaps there is some other reason. Whatever it may be, the Chronicles of Narnia have touched many lives with their magic, but none have been more effective than “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.
When I was thinking about how I was going to write this article, I started to wonder what it was that drew me to that first book. I remember the day I first started reading it. It wasn’t a magical day, with snow cresting the ground or lacing the trees. In fact, it was a day in the middle of summer. It was a Sunday… rather fitting, if you think about it. We were at my parents’ friends’ house, I was ten years old, and I was so tired from being dragged around all day that I just wanted to go to sleep. Our friend offered for me to take a nap in his bedroom and I was very grateful. The problem was, I always read myself to sleep and I hadn’t brought any books with me. I just couldn’t seem to still my mind enough to close my eyes and just relax. So I asked him if he had any books I could look at. Now, he was an older man. He said he had some books that he could let me borrow, if I liked, because his kids were too old to read them anymore, and his grandkids were too young to understand them. Those books just happened to be “The Chronicles of Narnia”. I remember feeling slightly guilty when I pulled out the first one, because it had a witch in it, and witches were evil; we weren’t supposed to read about them. Lol! How far I’ve come since that day!
What comes to mind when we think of the Chronicles of Narnia? For me, the first thing I see is a little girl in an empty room peering into the dark of a closet and wondering what could be inside.
“Shortly after that they looked into a room that was quite empty except for one big wardrobe; the sort that has a looking-glass in the door. There was nothing else in the room at all except a dead blue-bottle on the window-sill.
“Nothing there!” said peter, and they all trooped out again – all except Lucy. She stayed behind because she thought it would be worth while trying the door of the wardrobe, even though she felt almost sure that it would be locked. To her surprise, it opened quite easily…” (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
What drew Lucy to the wardrobe? Some people say it was the promise of fur coats hiding behind the door, but that can’t be because she didn’t know the coats there until after she’d opened it. Some say it’s because she wanted to look at herself in the looking glass, but she didn’t know that was there either. All that we are told is that, “she thought it would be worth while to try the door of the wardrobe, even though she felt almost sure it would be locked.” And that’s it; nothing more. She just thought it would be “worth while”…
But I have to wonder if that was really all. I wonder if something wasn’t calling her to the wardrobe… something far more compelling than fur coats or a fancy mirror.
The Wardrobe could represent several different things. Some might say it represents opportunity. Some might say imaginative freedom. But while I was sitting and pondering what the Wardrobe represented to me, I was struck with a new revelation… one that’s probably not been thought of before, and that might seem so obscure so as to make people wonder if it could possibly be a true reason after all.
My reasoning is this:
The Bible says that God will draw all men onto Him. It also says that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. He wants us to be close to Him, and He calls out to us, asking us to come to Him; asking us to find Him and take refuge in His arms. He wants to be near us, and he wants us to want to be near him. Deep down inside of each one of us, we can hear that call. Some of us ignore it, but others search it out, listening for His still, small voice to lead us down the right path to His arms.
But every path has a beginning: every room needs a door. Finding that door and opening it is just the start.
“What door?” you say. “What on earth are you talking about?”
If this is confusing you, I’m sorry. Let me try to be more plain. Raise your hand if you know that Aslan the Lion represents Jesus Christ. *looks at the many hands raised in the air.* Just in case you didn’t know, Aslan the Lion does represent Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Though Narnia isn’t exactly God the Father, there was only one way to get there… and that was if one was being called because of a great need.
Think about it. Every time any of the children entered Narnia, Aslan knew. At least half of the time, he called for them himself. In “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” it was the prophesy of the four thrones. In “Prince Caspian” it was Susan’s Horn. In “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” it was Caspian’s quest. In “The Silver Chair” it was the lost prince. In “The Last Battle” it was the fight for Narnia’s last true king and the True Aslan. (Though you can’t count “The Magician’s nephew” since that’s basically the story of Adam and Eve, nor can you count “The Horse and His Boy” as that was set in the Golden Reign of the four Pevensies.) Things only went right in the end because Aslan and the children worked together in some way, shape, or form… no matter how minute it may have seemed. Aslan shows up in all of the books, even if it’s only for the briefest period of time.
So what is “The Wardrobe” for us, and how can we find it?
Well, it’s simple really: so simple it’s sitting there right in front of our faces. Our Wardrobe – our doorway to the wonders of God – our open window to freedom and all of God’s love for us – is Jesus Himself. He is the bridge. He IS the Wardrobe… the passage into God’s arms. The salvation message in the books and the Wardrobe itself both represent similar things.
Aslan is the one who calls us to Narnia – through the wardrobe or by any other way. He is our open door.
Jesus is the one who calls us to Himself and to the Father. He is our path to God.
It’s all one in the same.
So when Lucy peered into the wardrobe for the first time, was it really the fur coats that made her step inside and reach for something beyond her site (in this case, supposedly the back of the wardrobe) or was there something more behind it? Perhaps she didn’t know it… Perhaps it was the most surprising thing to ever, ever happen to her… but I like to think there was more reason behind it than that. In the books Lucy asks Aslan if he’s in the other world (our world) too. He says, “Yes, but there I have a different name.” He also says, “You have come to know me here so that you may know me better there.”
No, I don’t believe it was an accident that Lucy stepped beyond the door of the wardrobe. She may not have known why she did it, but that doesn’t make it accidental.
Christ calls to us and longs for us, and wants to draw us to himself… just like he drew Lucy to him.
Christ is the wardrobe. And just like the Wardrobe, it’s not so hard to find Him if one looks. After all, He’s always right there with his arms wide open just waiting to welcome us in…
Just like the Wardrobe door.
(I hope this all made sense. I struggled with a few of the spots. If anything feels “muddy” to you, please let me know and I’ll try to clarify. For something I’ve been considering for quite a while, it sure was difficult to get it written down in coherent thoughts. Please feel free to post your own comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.)