There is Another World
There is Another World
In the late spring of 1975, I was in my mid-twenties. I was visiting some family members in northern Arizona. Two second cousins, Wendy and Jill Varnum, whom I had met for the first time and who were a bit younger than I, introduced me to the Narnia Tales by CS Lewis, books I had never encountered and which they had at their house. After a successful year of law school, I was about to attend a trial year of seminary at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. I was looking for a deeper relationship with God. But would it affect my career? Would I change careers, or go back to law school in a year? Who knew?
I did know I was seeking God, but, more importantly, I knew that God was seeking me. (I had recently heard at law school an excellent sermon by a young pastor, Rev. Harry Smith, about how the God of the Bible is always coming after us and seeking us.) At that time in my pilgrimage, God used CS Lewis’s Tales of Narnia, especially two of them—the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Last Battle—to significantly impact and shape my re-awakening, searching, tender, vulnerable and malleable faith. In some ways these children’s stories became as important to me as anything I would read during my years in seminary, which began the next fall. They became as important as anything I would ever read-- except the Bible.
As many readers know, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the story of how some children, evacuated to the countryside from London during World War II, discover inside a wardrobe the gateway to a different world called Narnia. In that world they discover an evil queen and they also discover Aslan the lion whom most of us believe is an allegorical figure Lewis uses to represent Jesus Christ. To me Lewis’s gift was that he could, in a children’s book imminently readable by adults, use his considerable gifts of imagination to create a world where a number of biblical concepts (which some had never learned and which to others had grown stale) could shine with a vigorous luminosity and emit a fragrance like fresh bread just out of the oven.
Fast forward almost 45 years. Partly because of my diagnosis two years ago of lymphoma, I retired in August of 2017 after 38 years of ministry. The lymphoma, after having gone into remission for a while, is now in the central nervous system, and we are fighting it valiantly. Whether or not we win this particular battle, I know Christ has already won the war!
During this time of relative physical weakness and inactivity, one of the things I often do is watch a video of a BBC children’s television series of CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (1988). Though she enjoys it too, my wife is amazed at how often I watch it. I do not think I can tire of watching it.
It reminds me that there is another world. The theologian Karl Barth called it “the strange new world in the Bible.” Jesus spoke of this other world all the time and referred to it as “the kingdom of God” which he said was “at hand.” Jesus said that although this kingdom is invisible to the eyes, we can inhabit it now through faith in him! Jesus also referred to this other world in its full, visible, and fully completed form when he said, “in my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you” (John 14:2) and when he said “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:3)
There is another world.
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.This column first appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.