Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Horse and His Boy

Ever since the point where the baby could start to hear in utero (I think that's around 16 weeks?) I've been reading bedtime stories to her. I chose "The Chronicles of Narnia" to start. I figured I can get through all seven books before she can have an opinion on which bedtime stories she wants to hear. We're currently on "The Horse and His Boy" and I've gotta say it's my favorite. I know the most popular of the Narnia series, but it means a lot to me.

Short version of the story: I came home from my mission due to anxiety and during the time when I was figuring out if I could/would go back, I was reading through Narnia for the first time. I happened to be reading "The Horse and His Boy" on a particularly stressful day. But that made the reading all the sweeter.

Near the end of the book, Shasta (the main character) is lost in the mountain fog. His mission to warn the King of Archenland has been completed and now he's lost and depressed. Everything seemed to go perfectly for everyone but him. In the midst of his sadness, a talking Narnian creature joins him. This creature, who turns out to be Aslan, tells him that he has been watching over him all along his journey. Shasta was never alone.

As Aslan is meant to represent Jesus Christ, I find it interesting that all the times Shasta encountered him previously in the book guided him along, but in very different ways.

The first time Shasta encountered Aslan, he had appeared to be two wild lions. These lions had driven the two Narnian horses (Bree and Hwin) together along with their riders (Shasta and Aravis, respectively). With the four of them together, they were able to complete their journey, which would have no happened if they'd been alone. In a similar sense, I believe that the Lord will use the our trials to bring us together with the people that we need in our lives. It's not always fun. It's not always pleasant. But we wouldn't be the same people without them. If I had been where I wanted to be over the past ten years, instead of where God wanted me to be, I’d never have met some of my very best friends.

When Shasta encountered Aslan the second time, he had taken the form of a cat. In this calm and quiet form, Aslan kept Shasta company as he spent the night alone in the desert, after getting split up from his friends. As I think about how the cat comforted him, I think about the promise of the Holy Ghost as the “comforter” (John 14:26). This is also one of the roles that Christ played (John 14:18).

The same night that Shasta was alone in the desert, he heard jackals howling in the distance. He heard the roaring of a lion scare the jackals off. The roaring scared Shasta as well, but even while he was scared he was safe. Aslan had scared off the jackals, keeping Shasta protected. In the same way, I believe that even though God's will scares us sometimes, it's the way we'll be safe.

The next time Shasta was visited by Aslan was the last (chronologically) before the big revelation on the mountain road. While running toward Archenland and away from Prince Rabadash of Calormen, The horses were out of energy and couldn't run any faster. That was the case until a lion started chasing after them. The fear gave the horses new energy and because of that Shasta was able to make it to King Lune of Archenland in time. Likewise, sometimes trials, though painful and scary, push us to our limits we didn't know we could reach. If it wasn't for the Lord emotionally stretching me, I wouldn't know the strength and faith that He's blessed me with.

There was one more time that Aslan watched over Shasta that he told in the end. As a baby, Shasta had been left adrift in the ocean (you'll have to read the book to know why), but Aslan helped that boat with baby Shasta make its way safely to shore. He was found by a fisherman who raised him and, despite the abusive upbringing, it kept Shasta safe until he was called to save Archenland. Just like Aslan on that night, the Savior will gently guide us through our oceans to somewhere safe where He can prepare us for what's next.

I don't know what you're going through, but our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is watching over you, preparing you, stretching you, and caring for you. That much I know.

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