Narnia was a land trapped in a kind of supernatural polar vortex. Because of the dark magic and immense power of the White Witch, the land remained in a perpetual state of winter. However, winter in Narnia was somewhat different than ours because Christmas never came. Despite being someone who really does not like winter very much whatsoever, I love Christmas. It brings joy and light to a season that is otherwise rather unpleasant, cold and dark. Although we do not hear very much about Narnia from the end of The Magician’s Nephew until the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it is at least evidently clear that the creatures of Narnia do not like to live under the rule of their cold dictator.
Imagine the relief, surprise and unencumbered joy when St. Nicholas himself is finally able to make his way into Narnia. A kind of magical being in his own right with supernatural powers of warp speed, he had been unable to make his way into Narnia because of the Witch. Only once powers far beyond himself began to act could he actually deliver always gifts he wanted to. Winter was still in Narnia for a short while, but Christmas had arrived.
I was thinking about this portion of CS Lewis’ series because in my home state of Vermont, Christmas is near the beginning of winter. Naturally I am the first one complaining as the weather continually drops through October, November and December. Being entirely honest though, I realize and admit that October, November and December are really not all that bad. We very rarely get terrible weather until after Christmas. Our coldest temperatures are typically in January and February.
I’m not simply comparing the meteorological reality of a parallel universe to our universe out of scientific curiosity though. I think that we all have experiences like what we see in Narnia. We are trapped in some kind of difficult situation, and we see a tremendous breakthrough. St. Nicholas flies in if you will and brings us a great deal of comfort. Once we recognize that breakthrough for what it is, the reality that Christmas has indeed come, then we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The change was almost immediate, and the snow started melting practically instantaneously. For the balance of this article, I am going to call this a Narnia Experience.
Other times, we have that wonderful breakthrough, and things do not change that quickly. Christmas comes here in Vermont, and it is a wonderful time of joy. However, the majority of winter and our coldest temperatures are still ahead. We may have that temporary comfort, but we also understand that there is still a long road to go before we get to the ultimate warmth of spring and summer. It doesn’t always happen as quickly as it does in Narnia. I am going to call these Vermont Experiences going forward.
We want everything to happen like a Narnia Experience. We want to be able to find a solution to our problems and immediately see the results. We are tired of winter, and we just want to see everything better. All our problems should disappear, and we move onward to bigger and better things. If there is something I know after talking to a lot of people though, our lives are a lot more like Vermont Experiences. Things don’t always come easily for us. It is not that we are ungrateful or don’t appreciate the great parts of our lives, but we simultaneously realize that we still have battles to fight. Yes, we are moving towards better things, but we still have a long way to go. Vermont Experiences test our perseverance and patience.
In the context of our faith, I think there is an obvious level of application. Obviously there are times when being a Christian is rather easily. A lot of pastors have talked about the mountaintop experiences, but sometimes we find ourselves in the valleys.
However, I think there is a deeper level to this type of dichotomy as well that maybe is not so obvious. I would like to propose that the deeper level to this dichotomy that it is actually a false dichotomy. You may have been agreeing with everything I have written so far about how there are major differences between Narnia and Vermont Experiences. However, they are not fundamentally different. The only difference is the time between the encouragement and the ultimate deliverance. In Narnia, it happens quickly. In Vermont, it is not quite so quick and seems endless at times. However, that does not make them fundamentally different kinds of experiences. They are the same experience just on different timelines.
We become unhappy when we don’t get what we want right away, but we need to remember that there is always hope. There is always the promise that the warmth will come. Spring will always come and bring about new life. It is not like the promise of spring diminishes because it is two months away any more than it does when spring is two minutes away.
If the promise is trustworthy, then we have no reason to worry whether it takes a little time or a long time. The fact of the matter is that the promise will still be delivered. We do not need to doubt. We do not need to fear. We don’t need to stress over anything. Instead, we can continue to know that everything will be fine because the promise is secure.
Just because spring is two months away does not mean that spring is not coming ever. Sometimes it comes earlier, and sometimes it comes later, but it never fails. Our planet is designed for it to come.
That is all the encouragement that I can provide you. It is not because I don’t want to, but it is because I don’t have anything greater to say. There’s a Book, and that Book is full of promises that guarantee that we are not alone. This Book promises that there is Someone who is always looking out for you. It promises that Someone always will love you and has already demonstrated His love for you by sending His only Son to die on the cross for you and your sin.
I think we can get so wrapped up in what type of experience we are facing, hoping it will not be a Vermont Experience while praying for a Narnia Experience. It is understandable that we do that. We focus on what is right in front of us. However, we can’t forget the truth that time is really an irrelevant dimension here. Do we know that we are in the hands of God no matter where we go? If we know that, then we had nothing to fear, no matter how long that winter draws out. We will enjoy the encouragement whenever it comes and use the encouragement to remind us that there is hope. However, the hope itself is what is significant here. We cannot forget that, and we should not forget that. If we do, then we are simply not living the lives we were meant to live.