Even Better Than Eden: Ch. 9, City, Personal Journal
In C. S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, two children and their faithful Narnian guide, Puddleglum, are given the assignment to find the rightful prince of Narnia before his aging father dies.
Though they start out strong, they find it increasingly difficult as the realities about them and the temptations to stray off their assigned path grow strong.
Not only that, they also find themselves directly opposed. This antagonist comes in the form of a beautiful green lady, who tries to convince the travelers that the dark, shadowy underground existence they are trapped in is the reality and the Narnia they love—the land above ground—is all a dream. They fall under her spell but fiercely struggle to get out of it by reminding each other of things they saw in Narnia.
Finally, in one last attempt, Puddleglum delivers this rousing speech that stirs all the rest to action:
“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. … Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia…”
Sometimes I think that heaven is a figment of my imagination. There are times when I even doubt that Jesus exists. The things I see, feel, touch—they seem like the realities.
But what is this reality?
Brokenness. Temporary thrills. Things that seem permanent and sure can be wiped out in an instant by earthquakes, stock market crashes, or theft.
This world might look good, but even we know—sometimes through personal experience—that the longings aroused will never be fulfilled by these offerings. We need something more certain.
The problem is that what is certain is invisible. The Kingdom of God is sure, but right now, it almost seems subversive, growing right in the midst of the kingdom of man.
That is why I need to constantly review the story of what looks like a play-world—and stick together with other “babies” that believe likewise. We need to talk about what is real, what is true, what is firm. We need one another, to remind each other that what we see is not the reality. What is real is unseen.
It has been a privilege and honor to walk with you to the city of God. Let us continue to encourage one another to do so.