Saturday, February 27, 2010

Only the Beginning.

Yesterday the kids and I finished reading 'The Last Battle' - the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I never thought that I would be so sad to see it end. I'm not much for fantasy stories, but since the release of the Narnia movies, I've connected with the symbolism and deep truths of the plot. The books did not disappoint.
Last winter the 3 van der Mark kids and I turned the first page of the Magician's Nephew, and we've plugged away until now (reading about a chapter a day). It's been a memorable journey and it's amazing how the story struck a chord with each of one us. Reading the adventures and lessons learned by the characters, I found myself immersed in the emotions and grander themes of the text. Many times I have to go back and read sections over again, astounded at the way it applies to my own circumstance. C.S. Lewis is truly a gifted writer. Yesterday it was sad to close the cover, knowing that our adventures in Narnia are over, and yet the ending paragraph was so beautifully described and reminded me again of the bigger picture -

" . . .. and as Aslan spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was on the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before."

Happily ever after is what we all hope for at the end of the story... But in this case, there is even more... A story that continues where every chapter is better than the one before.
I took some time to reflect on the ending, and how it applies to my own life. It's a reminder to me of how life 'as I know it' isn't true life. Sure, it's a reality that is passing by moment by moment. But it's only a glimmer of what REAL life is.
Occasionally this world offers me glimpses of what we have yet to see - bright fuschia flowers blooming year round beside the mission gate, the sunset colours dancing on the water, the cooing of babies at the Hope House, fresh squeezed ji zoranj, floating in the crystal Caribbean sea looking towards the mountain heights, the chorus of the church congregation.
There is undeniable beauty around me. Around all of us.
And yet amidst the beauty, there is brokenness. There are elderly people sitting alone on street corners. There are incurable diseases. There is fear in the hearts of children. There are natural disasters that tear down walls and rip families apart. There are bombs and wars and greed.
If only we could break out of the pain in this world. If only our human nature could some day be banished.

What would these days look like if we lived everyday knowing that this is not the end?
Just like the story of Narnia, what would my life look like if I chose to wake up every morning knowing that there is a greater story to be told?
What would our world become if we clung to the hope of a better tomorrow?

With everything in me, I know the promise isn't broken. My faith is but a mustard seed, but I know it's enough to hold onto a greater story. Not just for me, but for my brothers and sisters without a home, for the children starving for food and truth, for the office manager in a high-rise corner office searching for something to fill the void, for the single mom without a paycheck, for the ones who wander and the ones that simply wait.
May we all be aware of the promise of new life. Restoration. Salvation. Rebirth. Joy.
Beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. It's only the beginning.

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