While preparing for a recent message, it occurred to me that sometimes it’s easier to “see” something than to write about it or just talk about it. In the following audio file, I’ll take you on a journey to a fascinating place.
It’s not a real physical place, but rather a spiritual place…where Heaven meets Earth. I hope the experience will help you. When you have six minutes to relax, take a moment to close your eyes and go on this journey with me.
Then, please let me know what you think!
I didn’t understand the big picture when I first got wrapped up in Kingdom stuff.
I’m in good company, though. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy didn’t initially decide to venture deeper into Narnia because of their love for Aslan. No, it was Tumnus. It was their sense of duty to Lucy’s friend – their pursuit of justice – that first drew them in. They had no idea that what led them into Narnia would only be a piece of what kept them there.
For me, it was supernatural power. I was fascinated with the idea that I might be able to lay my hands on the sick and see them healed, or that my inspired words could change a life. I started off pursuing His power. But that’s not why I’m still here.
While pursuing justice for their friend, Tumnus, the four children met Aslan. Aslan changes everything. Soon, Tumnus would become a sideshow. Long-after Tumnus was freed, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy would remain in Narnia. Why? Because of Aslan.
I don’t know what first brought you into the Christian world. Maybe you got here because you were hurting, looking for comfort. Maybe a friend was sick and you needed a miracle. Maybe you just needed a community that loved you. You’re here and that’s awesome. What I’ve found is that whatever brought you here is different than what will keep you here. [TWEET THIS] At some point, you’re going to meet Jesus. You’ve heard about Him. You’ve needed things from Him. But when you meet Him, He changes everything. The rest of your journey is about Him.
What brought you to this blog? this church? this pursuit? How did Jesus use that to bring you to Him?
Other Lessons From Narnia
You can call me the worst pastor ever, but it won’t change the fact that I never read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. That is, I never read it until recently. Two kids and a 10 hour road trip to SC finally made for the perfect occasion. Yes, I consider children’s audio books legitimate reading. Don’t hate!
Edmund jumped out to me as the most curious character. Something had happened to Edmund. We’re never really told what, but before the story begins, Edmund had become different. He had lost his boyish innocence and replaced it with a cold bitterness. The judgmental response of his siblings drove him to isolation and a deep need to prove himself.
This is the state in which Edmund enters Narnia…so eager to make a name for himself and prove his worth to everyone around him. The White Witch senses his condition and offers an enticing solution – royalty. “I am looking for someone I can take in as my son,” she says, “who will become King and rule in my place.” She appeals to something he already knows about himself, that he was indeed created for greatness. She affirms that royal identity inside him and entices him to the dark side. Here’s what all this speaks to me.
Lessons from Narnia: (TWEET THIS)
1.) You Are Royalty (Already)
One of our enemy’s tactics is to promise us what God has already planned for us. He did this with Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3) and tried it again while Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8). The more confident we can become in our identity in Christ, the less room our enemy has to deceive us. The Bible says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” (1 Peter 2:9) Don’t forget that you are created for greatness. Your alignment with God is all you need to achieve the royal heights He has planned for you.
2.) Pursue the Eternal, Not the Temporary
The White Witch may have promised Edmund royalty, but it was royalty in a Kingdom that was passing away! How much effort do we spend pursuing earthly wealth, position, and fame? Is it possible we’ve fallen into the trap of the White Witch…chasing after royal prestige in a world that is passing away? But God’s Kingdom is eternal! Aslan has the better deal!
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
3.) Don’t Push People Away
We don’t know why Edmund was the way he was. Well, perhaps those of you who read the other books in the series do, but I don’t. Chances are something happened to him. Someone hurt him. He had his sense of self-worth stripped from him. But his siblings only helped to push him away. Would the story have gone differently if Peter and Susan has dropped their critical tone? What if they had been a continual source of encouragement for Edmund, reminding him of his potential and supporting his God-given identity? Would he have stood up to the White Witch and resisted her empty promises? Our role in the lives of others is to help them realize their true identity as beautiful creations of God. Maybe, just maybe, we can be that soft voice of encouragement that pulls them back in to faith instead of pushing them away.
Who do you most relate to from the story? Peter? Edmund? Lucy? Susan? I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this!
Try this exercise. Think all the way back to the beginning of this week. What were your expectations for how it would turn out? Did you have visions of making abundant progress on your most important projects? Did you expect that your labors were going to produce a great harvest? Did you expect the time you invested in relationships to create amazing memories? Did you expect that the time you gave to helping others was going to create lasting impact? Or did you expect to get through the week just barely squeaking by, to invest all of your energy and walk away the same way you went into it?
Most of us expect to toil hard at work and get little results. Here’s something I’ve learned, though. That kind of stressful, unproductive hard work is actually the result of the Fall of Man, going all the way back to Adam. (Check out Genesis 3:17-19) Jesus, however, has already come to undo the results of the fall. You can actually expect that your labor in Christ WILL BE FRUITFUL!
I believe this is actually the first step toward stress-free living. Stop expecting meaningless toil. Expect RESULTS! [TWEET THIS]
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corin 15: 58
What do you expect out of this week?
Stressed? Check out these other posts:
Previously, I told a story about stressing out trying to add to a caulk job my father had already finished. I put a lot of effort into the job, but I didn’t realize I was only adding gobs of mess to an already perfect work. That’s how many of us approach the idea of righteousness (right standing before God). We’re busying ourselves trying to do good works, but the Bible is clear that Jesus has already finished the work for us. We can’t make ourselves any more righteous by our own good works. We can’t get any more saved than we already are as believers in Jesus. In fact, our fleshly efforts only mess up the perfect work of Jesus.
What is a believer supposed to do, then? Are we just supposed to sit around and do no good works? Should we go around sinning, knowing that grace will abound even more? Of course not! Our role becomes one of simple obedience. It’s not stressing out trying to follow a legalistic set of rules. It’s being led by God’s Spirit, day by day.
What is Simple Obedience?
One time Jesus asked a group of pharisees if it was right to good or evil on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a picture of the age we live in today as believers, an age where we can rest from the works of our flesh and trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. The only remaining question is what to do in that place of rest, the same question Jesus asked the pharisees: Should we use our place of rest to do good or evil? To me, that question is a picture of simple obedience. “God, what would be GOOD for me to do today?” “How can I best show Your love to the people around me today?” The answer to these questions is the opportunity to simply obey God’s Spirit.
Paul tells us not to use our new freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love to serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Simple obedience is all about prayerfully approaching each day looking for the opportunities God is placing in our path to love others. We’re free from adherence to the Law…free to follow God’s voice in loving others! [TWEET THIS]
How does this Help with Stress?
Here’s the awesome thing. Simple obedience is not stressful! Sure, we’ll be stretched. Sure, we’ll be uncomfortable. The Apostles commitment to simple obedience led them to many uncomfortable situations. But, we never carry the burden alone. We’re empowered by God’s Spirit and He shares the burden with us. You can imagine two bulls yoked together, but one is much stronger than the other. As long as the weaker bull stays in step with the stronger bull, he is never carrying much weight, no matter how much weight is piled on. That’s what walking in simple obedience to Jesus is like. Jesus says:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
What does walking in simple obedience look like for you?
More thoughts on Stress:
Life can be stressful and pressurizing. We’re all searching for ways to take the stress off and enjoy life the way it was intended to be enjoyed. In a previous post, I give 3 Ideas to Help Depressurize Your Life. This post digs into the first Idea, You be You. A couple of messages were shared at Capital City Church this past month that nail this idea on the head. I figure I’ll just let you check them out:
by Caleb Stewart
There is something about you that can only be discovered in faithful relationship with God. Check out this podcast and learn how even the way you spend time with God is unique to you.
by Eileen Wilder and Bethany Pisani
Here’s what you’ll learn:
1.) Ditch the mask. You’re amazing.
2.) Discover your strength zone.
3.) Be present and enjoy life.
4.) Communicate with your Creator.
What are some resources you’ve discovered that have helped you depressurize your life?