Friday, January 27, 2012

Roaring Like a Lion

My favorite part in 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' movie is midway through the battle. Peter and Edmund are entrenched in a hopeless battle against Jadis, the White Witch. She has more soldiers on her side, she has the power to turn their soldiers into stone, and she's fearless. But they (and their "men") refuse to surrender. Peter knows that he could lose, that he probably should lose in terms of what seems most likely to happen, but he's going to continue to fight 'for Narnia and for Aslan!'. And then...just as the scales really tip in Jadis' favor, the music changes, and the point of view sweeps up the mountain to the top of the ridge. There stands Lucy, Susan, Mr.Tumnus, and of course, Aslan who announces his arrival with a mighty roar. (This is the part when I get chills and tears come to my eyes). Hope comes flooding down the mountain infusing Peter with new strength, and Jadis is drained of hers as she whispers "impossible", for she herself had killed him the night before. It is impossible, for everyone except the Son of the Emperor Across the Sea. For Him, nothing is impossible.

With God all things are possible.
--Matthew 19:26

The Newsboys have recently released a song entitled 'God's Not Dead (Like a Lion)'. For obvious reasons this song and this scene in that movie are related to me. Aslan was dead but defeated death and is now roaring to the rescue of the ones he loves and died for. Lewis didn't come up with this lion metaphor on his own; the Bible calls Jesus the Lion of Judah,  Judah being one the names for the Israelite people. In his life Jesus hardly came across as a lion. He was meek and mild when people wanted him to overthrow the Roman government. He took and endured abuse and slander with staggering humility. Those who believed in Him knew that He could put an end to it and was choosing not to; those who did not believe in Him mocked and challenged Him to come off the cross or call down angels. This does not seem lionish--any of it. But within Him he had the strength of the Lion, the strength of God, in fact. And that's what turned back death, defeating the deep magic, as Lewis puts it in his timeless stories.

"Oh, you're real, you're real! Oh, Aslan!" 
cried Lucy and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan 
when they were somewhat calmer.
"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

Unlike in the Narnia stories, Jesus didn't come roaring back into the middle of a battle. He came quietly into a garden where a young woman had come to tend for His broken, lifeless body. But inwardly, I imagine, there was a battle inside Mary. A battle of unsettling doubt and confusion, of heart-breaking loss and emptiness. Like the Pevencey children, Jesus had saved Mary, had loved her and cared for her as He did all his dear friends. And without Him, the pain must have been unbearable, very much like a hopeless uphill battle. Within the tenderness of his speech, maybe there was a roar...a roar against the darkness surrounding Mary and the other disciples. A roar against all doubt, fear, worry, and regret. A roar that allowed doubting Thomas to believe, that reinstated Peter, and that finally turned John from a 'son of thunder' to an apostle of Love. A roar that allowed me, in the 21st century, to make a turning point and conquer my own demons. Now that's a mighty roar. 

My God's not deadHe's surely aliveHe's living on the insideRoaring like a lion
--God's Not Dead (Like a Lion), The Newsboys

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