A while back I was reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as part of a writing group. I found myself walking through the wardrobe with a writer’s eyes and picking apart Lewis’ amazing prose. It was definitely a different way to read this familiar story. As I was reading I was continually stuck on the phrase, further in.
What does it mean to be further in?
For Lucy when she first encounters Tumnus?
For the four children following the bird?
For their entrance into the beaver’s nest?
Over and over they had to come further in; and the further in they went, the more lost they felt, but the deeper into the story they became, and the closer they were to meeting Aslan.
As every birthday reminds me of how close I am to half a century, I’m realizing that I am further out than I long to be. The longer I parent, the longer I read Scriptures, the longer I try to be a good friend, the more I see the ways I hold myself out.
Going further in is dangerous. Going further in requires a choice and vulnerability.
Edmund, went further in the wrong way—toward selfish desires. The other children went further in and found themselves face to face with a Lion.
But imagine where the story would have gone had they just stayed at the lamppost? Or what if, once their toes had felt the bitterly cold snow, they had turned and gone back through the wardrobe? Stories don’t happen when you hold back and shy away from the risk.
Simon Peter is probably my favorite disciple. His mouth is constantly going on and on, but when push comes to shove and the option to go “further in” presents itself, he ducks out.
In reading through the denial of Jesus this past Lenten season, Peter’s phrase “I am not” struck me to the core and I sat thinking how often that is my response. I also started thinking of all the great stories I’ve read and, had the characters denied their responsibilities, how quickly the story would have come to an end:
If Frodo had replied no to the ring; or even Samwise to going with him.
If Paul had rejected his calling to be Muad’dib to the people of Dune.
If Marilla had gone through with sending Anne back.
If Jane had never been brave enough to trust Ransom.
If Jesus had responded to Pilate with “I AM not”.
All the great stories are great because the characters chose to go further in. In God’s goodness though, when we’ve chosen to turn the other way and move outside of where we should be going, He welcomes us back with forgiveness. Edmund too found himself face to face with a Lion—one offering His life for his.
The Lord came back to Peter and urged him on towards love. After his resurrection, Jesus gives Peter the chance to redeem his “I am not”, with “Yes Lord”. (And not merely once, but over and over.) It is a reminder that our going further in is never a one-time thing. Moving further in is a choice that God continually offers us. May I seek to move further into the story that the Lord is writing with arms wide open and a mouth responding with “Yes, Lord.”
Featured image byFreepik