I want to be like Lucy Pevensie when I grow up.
Always one of my favorite Chronicles of Narnia characters, Lucy lives with joy in the smallest of moments and hopeful appreciation of people—and any other kind of creatures—around her. Her relationship with Aslan often stands in contrast to her siblings’; as the first to find Narnia she seems to also consistently be the first to seek Aslan out and follow him. When the Pevensies return to Narnia in Prince Caspian, Lucy keeps looking for him—and is overjoyed to finally find him one night when the others are sleeping.
“‘Aslan,’ said Lucy, ‘you’re bigger.’
‘That is because you are older, little one,’ answered he.
‘Not because you are?’
‘I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.’”
C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
An Uncharted Year
With less Lucy Pevensie and more of Wile E. Coyote’s frenetic running around, I turn the calendar to a year unknown and unconquered. Page after empty page holds exciting possibilities of things planned and done and accomplished and crossed off the list.
The future is ours, right? What do we want to do with it? The next twelve months hold incredible potential for reaching goals and learning new things and trying new directions and generally attempting self-improvement.
But where is Aslan?
Like Every Year Before It
About a year ago we were looking ahead to the year that is now behind us. Unbeknownst to us, there would be events and changes that we would have never seen coming: highs, lows, in-betweens, and plenty of surprises that popped up unexpected. These last twelve months have shown us more of God at work, whether we realized it at the time or not.
In all of this, have we sought Him out? Or just tried to get things done?
As we turn to face the coming year, even more question marks—more “unbeknownsts”—fill our empty calendars. We don’t know what we will face this year. If it’s anything like every year before it, there will be some big surprises. Maybe some good ones, maybe some life-changing ones, and probably some we would rather not face.
But like Lucy Pevensie, if Aslan is there—we’ll be okay.
With Us Always
On the heels of the recent Christmas season, we go into the rest of our lives with its message ringing in our ears. There is born for you—for you—this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
In ancient times, religious ideas mostly centered around elusive gods that existed somewhere far away from humanity. The gods of Greece and Rome, according to mythology, had their own problems and concerns and sometimes even wars with other gods. They were not very concerned with humans, but their attention could be bought with gifts and promises and sacrifices.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to believe in gods like that? To worry daily about which gods might be mad at you for your allegiance to one of their rival gods and what sacrifices you may need to offer to stay on everyone’s good side? To assume that bad things in your life came from an angry god or maybe just a disinterested one, intent on his own concerns somewhere else?
The Israelites’ God had always been different.
One God, not many. God All-Powerful, not one god warring with others for top-dog status. The God who writes all of history and brings His plans to pass and loves—truly loves—His people.
Even then, in the Old Testament, under the law, there was a sharp division between God and His people. When God came to speak with Moses, He warned the people to stay away from the mountain where they met. If they touched it, they would die. The temple itself illustrated this separation with heavy curtains dividing the people from God’s Most Holy Place.
But all that changed with Jesus.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John wrote (John 1:14). Emmanuel has come, and will never leave. God. Is. With. Us.
Hope in the Right Places
“Everything that is done in this world is done by hope,” Martin Luther wrote. As we turn the calendar to 2018, we hope for lots of things. Better health, better habits, a more productive life, stronger relationships. We set goals and make resolutions that may start with some strength but will ultimately fizzle out long before we expected. If we hope that these resolutions and goals will make us better people, our dreams for the new year will be dashed long before Easter candy goes on clearance.
Not in our own self-bettering strategies. Not in a world of progress.
Well-placed hope—hope that God will walk through this next year with us as He did this past year and the year before that and every year into the past. Like Lucy Pevensie, waiting to see Aslan move, and trusting him to work out the details of the surprises that come our way.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe