Saturday, January 1, 2011

Further Up and Further In

jewel_unicorn"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!" - Jewel The Unicorn in The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis

Readers of C. S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia" will recognize the reference to one of the last lines in the Narnia stories.  I was first drawn to the books in my childhood, but over the years, as I have re-read them over and over, I am constantly amazed at the wealth of meaning and symbolism packed in to these seven all-too-short books.

Some scenes and lines have stuck out in my mind since way back when, though at the time, I didn't grasp the greater messages implied.  Since then, I have greatly enjoyed revisiting the stories from time to time, simultaneously reliving the wonder and excitement I experienced back then, and also seeing the stories through my son's eyes.  Most of all, as an adult, I have appreciated Lewis's expression of his faith in a fresh way that engages the imagination and challenges the spirit.

As a worship leader, the scene quoted above resonates with me.  Here is a group of beings discovering the "real" Narnia for the first time, experiencing yet greater heights of joy with every passing moment.  I find that same sense of the wonder of God's amazing love and grace in the book of Ephesians:

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

There are moments in my life, in the midst of the everyday living, where my spirit catches just a glimpse of these things, and I experience a clarity of thought and emotion, as if I have just awoken from a long dreamless sleep.  My finite mind cannot comprehend of infinity and eternity, and yet, I love to spend time out under a canopy of stars, feeling awed at the evidence of a truth I cannot fully conceive of.  And yet, I experience a strange joy to know that the stark reality of the universe and time without beginning or end has nothing to do with my understanding or acceptance.  It just WAS, and IS, and will ALWAYS BE, and I am but a speck of dust in a split second of time.  Strange, that such thoughts that should depress me instead bring me a sense of wonder and peace.

In the light of space and time, and the God who exists in both, I am nothing, yet the Bible says He knows my name, that He knew me before I was born, and that someday, I will live forever in His presence.  I imagine that each moment will bring greater joy and wonder than the one before as we finally see Him face to face.

Today, live beyond the mundane.  Lift your eyes beyond your circumstances.  Lie back under a blanket of stars, and let the infinite speak to your finite mind.  Dare to hope.  Dare to believe.

"Come further up, come further in!"