I love a good story, don’t you? The familiar narrative of good vs evil has been played out in a million ways from the sweetest of love stories to tales of warring nations. But the ones that really seem to stick with me are the stories of unassuming characters battling their own tendency for darkness.
It has been years since I’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia series but lately, I cannot seem to stop replaying “The Voyage of The Dawn Treader” over and over in my mind. In this beautiful allegory, the enemy that the beloved characters face is within themselves. The movie does not do it justice, turning the villain into a green mist that entices those it envelopes, drawing them to the edge of temptation. It’s an Oz-ified version of the Smoke Monster from Lost and it is not in line with the book. But, if I were Lucy, Eustace, and the others, I would want the green mist to be the culprit. At least there would be someone or something to blame.
But we do not get off that easily, nor do Lewis’ characters. Lucy stands, with the power to make herself more beautiful staring her in the face, and she can feel her flesh begging for her to speak the words. She can hear her insecurities whispering the way in her ear. Edmund stands at the edge of a lake of endless riches and his mind runs wild, dreaming of the status he could purchase with the gold this lake could give. His insecurities nudge him from behind. And braggadocios Eustace, always positioning himself as the highest, steps full into an opportunity to make more of himself. And what he discovers is that he has lost himself completely. He becomes a beast, a dragon. The hardness of his heart now worn as skin.
I have felt it too, the hardening of my heart, the threshold of temptation, my insecurities wooing me, softly calling to me to speak the words, hoard the riches, position myself higher. The moments I can feel that struggle taking place are probably good for me. Certainly better than me not noticing the darkness creeping in at all. But we must be honest about our scales. We do not always turn away from the temptation. Sometimes, we step full into the green mist of our own brokenness and our hearts get a little harder and we board up our souls in scaly skin.
But, there is one who comes with compassion. He comes with strength and truth and he sets to work on our dragon armor. See, it was a glimpse of Aslan that gave Lucy and Edmund the strength and wisdom to step away from the temptations. And it was Aslan who was courageous and kind enough to approach an arrogant, obnoxious boy, now enslaved and broken by his own darkness, in order that He might set him free. So Aslan peels and pulls back the scales, causing pain but so that there might be healing. Then raw from the tearing of the callouses, Eustace is submerged in healing water and finds himself once again. No longer beast…neither in flesh or in soul…but a boy with a heart ready to be low, to walk humbly, to enjoy life.
There is One who fights for us. He loves us and His heart breaks for our hardened hearts. It is His joy to loose the hold of the darkness, of the dragon-skin prison we wear. He will heal us though it might seem at first He is slaying us.
May we more often surrender to the first glimpse of our gentle Lion-King and turn to fight the darkness with Him. The first step, in either direction, is always surrender. We will surrender to the Lion or to the darkness in us. He will have mercy on whom He has mercy, may we surrender to the only merciful King.