Recently, I’ve been rereading The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. It started with a prompting to read The Last Battle, and then has progressed to reading them all in chronological order. (I realize there is some debate over whether to read them in publishing or chronological order. I decided on chronological this time and am enjoying it.)
I just finished The Horse and His Boy, which takes place during The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, during the reign of High King Peter, King Edmond, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy some years after the death of White Witch but before the children crawl back through the wardrobe to England.
In this book, two talking horses (as there are many talking beasts in Narnia) and two children are on a difficult journey from a faraway place to the land of Narnia. They pass through a dangerous city, cross a long desert, and are chased by hungry lions.
At a certain point in the story, they have made it to a hermitage to recover for a short time before finishing the trip (although one of the children has moved on for reasons I’ll not get into here). The three of them left there have enjoyed rest, relaxation, protection, and sustenance while at the hermitage.
In the particular scene I want to share with you today, the two horses and the child are talking about Aslan (the Christ figure in the books), whom none have ever seen. One horse, Bree, who is a proud warrior horse and has seen many battles, does not believe that Aslan is a real lion, but is called a lion as a metaphor.
At that moment, Aslan (who is a real lion) appears over the tall hedge wall they are speaking behind and silently comes upon them, startling and frightening them considerably. They all run to the other side of the small yard.
Then the other horse, who is a gentle, soft-spoken horse, does and says this:
Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.
“Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
This line, spoken by a talking horse no less, stopped me in my tracks. It also brought tears to my eyes. I literally had to stop reading and think about it for a while. Because there it is: Our response to the Most High God in all circumstances.
Here these characters are, in a near-paradise, where they are safe, comfortable, and well fed, and yet at the very sight of the great Aslan, Hwin sees that it would be more glorious to be eaten by him then to be fed by anyone else.
Many of us reading this live in our tranquil homes, with food in our kitchens, and soft places to rest, and must ever be reminded that all the comforts we have are nothing compared with our King, Jesus, and the purposes of His Father. He will take care of us, yes, and yet we must keep a heart toward Him of readiness for suffering and loss (in all its various forms) for His sake. Because it is more glorious to lose for Him then to win for ourselves.
Lord, You are so beautiful, so grand, so righteous, so worthy. As You build us, Lord, consume us. Bind the hearts of Your true bride. Do with us whatever you will at any cost to us. The worst you have to offer is better than the best the world has to offer.