After about a 6-month effort, I finished listening to the last of the Chronicles of Narnia stories last night. I started listening to them back in October or November in the car and listened to the final bits of “The Last Battle” on my way home yesterday.

Even though it took forever to make my way through, there were some really good lessons I gleaned from the tales of foreign lands and magical encounters and a great lion:

* Edmund’s appetite keeps him from doing the right thing, he gets consumed with temptation (Turkish Delight), which never ends up being satisfying in the end anyway.

* I think it was Lucy who asked about Aslan and if he was safe. Mr. Beaver tells her something like, “Course he ain’t safe! But he’s good.” We have to remember that even when God’s way is hard or difficult or risky, that it’s still good. And we have to trust in that.

* Another thing Mr. Beaver says of Aslan: “He’ll be coming and going,” says Mr. Beaver. “It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild you know. Not like a tame lion.” I have to remind myself of that during the times when I can’t always feel God or see signs of him.

* The only thing with that is that in The Last Battle, that phrase gets manipulated when a fake Aslan impersonates him and causes all kinds of bad things and turns out being mean. The Narnians use the idea that “Well, he’s not a tame lion” to make sense of this new Aslan. But it’s not true; they forgot that “not tame” doesn’t mean “bad” and, with God, his ways are unchanging (he won’t be nice in one generation and mean later), which is why we can trust in the God we see throughout the Bible.

* in The Horse and His Boy, the main character asks Aslan about something that happened to his friend. Aslan tells him that that’s not his story. I need to remember that I don’t need to worry about what happens to other people or even sometimes why certain things happen to me because, even if it includes me, maybe it’s more for someone else’s story or benefit.

* in the Magician’s Nephew, Digory has to go on a mission and he needs food and complains about it, noting that Aslan must have known that he’d need to eat and get hungry on the trip. His companion tells him (something along the lines of), “Yes, I’m sure he did. But you didn’t ask. I have the feeling that sometimes he just likes to be asked, even if he knows you need it anyway.”

* in The Last Battle, they enter the new Narnia through a stable, where the inside ends up being so much bigger than the stable itself (it’s a whole new Narnia!). Lucy notes that in her world, there’s a story about a stable that contains something much bigger than the stable itself. I love the imagery that C.S. Lewis gives to this new Narnia, where it’s just like the old Narnia, only everything is better—it’s like the original was a muted reflection of this one (just like we’re a muted, splintered reflection/image of God). Aslan calls them farther and higher into this new Narnia, which I think is what he’s calling us to now (further and further toward him) and as they get deeper in, it continues to get better and better. I think that fits now…

* Also, in The Last Battle, when all the animals enter the new Narnia, instead of Aslan judging them, they actually judge themselves; upon looking at Aslan they either go to his right or his left, depending on how they react to see him, is it from disgust or fear or horror? Or is it joy?

* There was a weird part where a guy who worshipped another god (but was good) ended up in the new Narnia. Though he did everything in the name of his nation’s god (Tash), Aslan welcomes him because he says that even if he had the name wrong, his heart was still in the right place. I’m not sure how I feel about that piece, theologically, whether I believe it, but I do know that C.S. Lewis is one smart guy so I’m not in a position to debate against him

even though Prince Caspian is coming out in just a few weeks, I’d prefer, now that I’m up-to-date on all of them, to see The Last Battle made into a movie-version, although I’m sure it’d be the hardest! it was just a really cool concept that C.S. Lewis had of what heaven will be like, with the kids able to swim up a waterfall with ease and run as fast and as effortlessly as the flying eagle. I think my favorite novel of them all though was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader because it is the most adventurous, taking the characters to all kinds of magical lands, plus you get to see Eustace heart melted and transformed with Aslan’s power.