I’ve been rereading The Chronicles of Narnia this month. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read the books, but each time I do, I learn something different about myself and about God. Different lines or phrases pull me closer to the heart of God, give me a deeper desire to know Him and to long for eternity.
“This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me [Aslan] here for a little, you may know me better there [in your own world].”
And the part of the saga that grasped my attention this week came from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Towards the end of the journey to the end of the world, Prince Caspian and the crew on the Dawn Treader (including Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace) are sailing towards a dark mass that they thought was land but turns out to be an overcoming darkness. While they are rowing through the darkness, they hear the voice of a crazed man begging them to take him on board, so they pull him up and he tells them to row away as fast as possible, for they have reached the Island where Dreams come true – not daydreams, but dreams. As the crew tries to change direction and row away as fast as possible, each man begins to experience different dreams coming to life: they hear noises, sense presences, and start to feel mad and desperate themselves – until, of course, Aslan.
How many times have I felt myself being pulled by “the dark,” the voice of fear and the creeping sensation of doubt taunting me in what I cannot see? Or how often do I give in to comparisons and self-pity, not realizing the tight grip they gain around me as I give them room to come near?
A lot has happened for us in the past month. We realized there was a good possibility Eric would get a job he had been interviewing for in Conway. Then he was offered the job and set July 1 as a start date. Then we worked like mad people one weekend and listed our house for sale by owner, just to see what kind of interest we got. Four showings and two offers happened in the first two business days on the market (and the other two showings were trying to work with their banks so they could put together official offers). So I quickly had to learn next steps for selling our house on our own when we accepted one of the offers. Then we drove to Louisville and back for a wedding of a dear friend. Two days later, I drove to Lawrence, KS and back for a quick 24 hour trip to visit more friends. The day after, we went house hunting in Conway.
The word I would use to describe the past month is exhausting: emotionally, mentally, physically, relationally. And it won’t stop for awhile, between wanting to see friends here and say goodbye, to potentially going down to Conway again for round two of looking for a house, to packing up our things, to my brother’s wedding at the end of this month, to my sister’s wedding at the end of the next month, to a third wedding for one of my college girls in which I am a bridesmaid…
Despite so many things on the calendar, there’s also a lot of uncertainty in the immediate future. We don’t know where we will live in Conway. We don’t know how long we will need a temporary housing option. We will be starting over to make friends. We have ideas of what my job will look like, but there are some other options out there and nothing is set in stone. Eric’s job is pretty much the only certainty at this point (that, and my parents’ excitement to have us in Conway), and even his job contains some unknowns when it comes to how to transition from a corporate workplace to a church staff.
So yes, the darkness, and the voices from what I can’t see taunting me? That’s very real for me right now. The panic that builds in my mind is paralyzing when I start to worry what will happen if we can’t find a house we want to buy, or – worse – if we buy a house that we don’t really like and we feel stuck. Or, for some reason, having to rent for a year feels like the end of the world. But panic is like that – it is irrational, and it takes over all common sense.
When we give in to worry, our current, momentary situation feels bigger than we can handle. Our present troubles outweigh our view of an eternal God.
“We shall never get out, never get out,” moaned the rowers. “He’s steering us wrong. We’re going round and round in circles. We shall never get out.”
When it comes down to it, I know that there’s always uncertainties in life. But there are some seasons where it is heightened more than others, and I am there now.
Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little – a very, very little – better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.
The what-ifs can drown out the reality of how “okay” you are right now – unless you re-fix your perspective from the darkness to the truth of God that is not dependent on circumstances. God is God no matter the presence of darkness or light. And just as Aslan whispered “Courage, dear heart,” to Lucy before they were out of the dark, God whispers “Courage, dear heart,” to you and to me, even if we still have to walk through a little more of the unknown.
Like Lucy, I need to fix my eyes on the One Who is bigger than all of those fears and concerns. Instead of allowing the darkness to overcome me, I want to look for the Light, no matter how small it may appear at first, and I want to fix my gaze there. Salvation lies in rowing straight for that light, not in looking around at the darkness and trying to visualize what’s hiding there.
All at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been… “I reckon we’ve made pretty good fools of ourselves,” said Rynelf.
There’s still lots of things that I am tempted to worry about – friends, finances, a place to live, a continued desire to start a family even in the midst of all of this – but when I find myself drifting toward the darkness again, I want to instead more quickly re-fix my eyes on the One Who is bigger than all of those questions and concerns – and the One Who is even sovereign over all things.