Aslan’s Will

In rereading C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, I’ve been fascinated by Lewis’ portrayal of how Aslan’s will is worked out in Narnia.

In the Narnian creation portrayed in The Magician’s Nephew, Aslan literally sings creation into being.  Aslan’s will is worked out through his own voice with changes in melody and rhythm preceding changes in the appearance of newly created beings.  The creation scene is portrayed as a beautiful symphony of creative expression of Aslan’s will.

Similarly, in the biblical Genesis account we see the earth’s creation spoken into existence through a series of “Let there be…” imperatives from God, the Creator. Then at the start of his gospel account, John, speaking of Jesus as The Word, said:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (John 1:1)

Reading these two biblical accounts I sense a joyful creative expression of God’s will, similar to that described in Lewis’ fictional portrayal.

On the day of the Narnian creation, Aslan also instated a Son of Adam and a Daughter of Eve as the first king and queen of Narnia. From that point on, we see a very different approach to Aslan’s will being carried out.  Once mankind is established as rulers over Narnia, Aslan begins working out his will primarily through humans or in response to the prayers of humans.

Even on the first day of creation, Aslan sent Digory and Polly on a quest to retrieve an apple to be planted by Digory to protect Narnia from evil. Aslan could have simply sung the protective apple tree into creation, himself.  Instead he saw fit to assign that task to Digory.

We see this same pattern in the biblical record. Prior to creating Adam, God carried out His will directly through His Word.  After instructing Adam and Eve to rule over the earth, His will was carried out on earth primarily through mankind…through His children…and through their prayers.

In Prince Caspian, both Cornelius (Caspian’s tutor) and Glenstorm (the centaur who was also a prophet) repeatedly referred to signs in the heavenly bodies indicating that the time had come for a major positive change in Narnia.  These signs and prophecies clearly indicate a predestined will of Aslan for Narnia to be freed from the oppressive rule of Miraz and for Caspian to be crowned as king over all Narnians.

However, supernatural help was withheld until Caspian blew Queen Susan’s horn…the magical horn given to Susan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that was promised to always bring help in time of need.  When Caspian blew the horn, his cry for help (prayer) called the four children from their world and ushered Aslan’s return.  Clearly, Aslan’s will was being worked out throughout the story.  Yet, his active participation awaited Caspian’s plea for help and was largely enacted through his servants, the Pevensie children.

In The Silver Chair, Aslan’s will for Prince Rilian to be freed from his enchantment is carried out by Eustace, Jill, and Puddgleglum the marshwiggle.  Although the three adventurers failed to follow three of the four signs given by Aslan, they still persisted in searching for the Prince.  Aslan’s will was carried out despite their many errors, as they were easily distracted and made many mistakes.  Yet Aslan’s will for Rilian to be freed was carried out through them.

At the beginning of the quest, Aslan explained their task to Jill.

“Please, what task, Sir?” said Jill.

“The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world.”

This puzzled Jill very much…

“I was wondering – I mean – could there be a mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know.  It was we who asked to come here.  Scrubb said we were to call to – to Somebody – it was a name I wouldn’t know – and perhaps the Somebody would let us in.  And we did, and then we found the door open.”

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

So, we see this intermingling of Aslan’s will with human will. Aslan’s sovereign will is carried out through the stammered prayers and flawed actions of humans.  Yet His will supersedes and orchestrates their wills.  Were it not for Aslan’s involvement, the quest would surely have failed through the many errors of the humans.  And they would never have even prayed their stammered prayer had He not called them…and even in their prayer they did not know even a fraction of what they were asking for.  Yet Aslan orchestrated His perfect will to be carried out through their imperfect pleas and choices…without ever violating or forcing their wills.

Through these fictional tales, Lewis portrays complex biblical truths.

There are numerous biblical examples of God’s will being carried out through His people. One example is the Great Exodus from Egypt.

In Genesis, God told Abraham:

Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.

So Israel’s slavery in Egypt and their Exodus was all part of God’s preordained plan, foretold to their ancestor, Abraham, hundreds of years in advance.

The book of Exodus opens by telling us a new Pharoah arose who did not know Joseph…was not faithful to his covenant with Joseph’s descendants.  The new Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites, forced them to hard labor, and killed their newborn sons.

Then we are told:

And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.

The Israelites prayed to God, and God was faithful to His covenant with them.

As the story unfolds, we see that God worked through Moses to redeem and deliver the Israelites from their bondage to Pharaoh.

So, God’s redemption and deliverance of Israel was in response to their prayer and was enacted through Moses. Yet, it was all part of His perfect pre-ordained plan given to Abraham hundreds of years earlier.

Just as in C.S. Lewis’ fictional tales of Narnia, God works out His perfect will through the imperfect prayers and flawed choices of His people.

Do you sometimes feel as though you are unimportant? As though your contributions to the world are insignificant?  As though you make too many mistakes to be of any heavenly good?

If you are God’s child then you are His chosen vessel through whom He works His will and purpose in this world. Click To Tweet

That’s how God’s will gets done in this world…through us…through our prayers and our actions.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9).

Be who God has created you to be…and trust Him to work His perfect will and purpose through you.

6 thoughts on “Aslan’s Will

  1. Love this, Joe; The Chronicles of narnia is, I think, the best bit of Christian allegory and apologetics ever written.

    I have to confess, though, that when I saw the title of the post, I inferred “Lat Will And Testament”.

    Pursuant to that, I had the mental image of a lion entering a lawyer’s office.

    And then the thinking that all of the image of the attorney, realizing that all of the lawyer jokes had come to fell consummation in his life, in this moment.

    • Hah! I didn’t even think about the wordplay! And wordplays are usually my thing… 😉

      Interestingly, the author of Hebrews seems to have made a similar wordplay, speaking specifically of a “will.”

      In a discussion on God’s covenants with mankind, he switches to treating the word “covenant” as though it was specifically in regard to a “last will and testament,” stating that it goes into effect after the one who made it dies…and therefore Christ’s death was necessary before the covenant could go into effect. In other words, for ‘God’s will’ to be done on earth, first God had to die…because a ‘will’ goes into effect after the death of the one who made it.

      Here’s the quote from Hebrews 9:15-17:

      “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.”

      Thanks for making me think a little deeper on this, Andrew! 🙂
      joe recently posted…Aslan’s WillMy Profile

    • I have really enjoyed this latest reading of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’!

      There are so many subtle messages and over-arching principles conveyed that I completely missed when I was younger.

      I think there will be another blog post or two about some of the things I picked up this time.

      Thank you, Lisa! 🙂
      joe recently posted…Aslan’s WillMy Profile

  2. I had no idea that C.S. Lewis intertwined so much of the sovereignty of God with man’s choice in this epic story he wrote, Joe. I’ve never read Chronicles of Narnia and I’ve read many people’s thoughts lately on the story, but I love how you fleshed it out here. Makes me want to pick up a copy and read it. Maybe sometime this summer, when things slow down! ha! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, my friend! I hope you are doing well since going through your treatments. Is life getting back to more of a normal these days?
    Beth recently posted…Comment on How to Connect with God Daily And Linkup by JosephPoteMy Profile

    • I grew up reading C.S. Lewis as a child (starting with listening to my father read). As an adult, I read them to my own children, as well.

      Last month I decided to read the series again, and was surprised at the depth of some of the themes…especially as the story-arc spans multiple books.

      On the surface, they’re just children’s stories with pretty straightforward plot lines. And, yes, there are some pretty obvious allegorical presentations, such as Aslan the Lion representing a type of Christ (think Lion of the Tribe of Judah).

      But he also interwove some fairly intricate biblical principles. One can derive a reasonably clear picture of Lewis’ theological perspective just by reading his children’s fiction.

      On the personal health area, I’m doing great! Active and healthy with no sign of cancer. Life has become extremely busy and I haven’t much time for blogging, these days. But that’s okay, too. 🙂

      Blessings to you, my friend!
      joe recently posted…Rilian’s Dual DestiniesMy Profile

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