“Further up, further in!”
The Final Battle, C.S.Lewis
“It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then he cried, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it ‘til now…Come further up, come further in!”
A couple of my local writing friends have blogs that I enjoy perusing. In a recent post of E. G. Bella’s, I found myself intrigued by her “Top 5 Fantasy Books” and decided to make a personal list of my own fantasy faves. I had just finished a read-aloud to a couple of my children, The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson, and I was still in the throes of its concluding redemptive drama in which exist tendrils of hope in the presence of the evils of life. Is this not why we love Story? Is this not why in the anals of history there were bards’ songs and storytellers, and why in family cultures throughout the world we need to hear the stories of where we came from? We all love to hear a good story.
Stories ground us, giving us a sense of Belonging. They give us a pattern to follow, so that in our own stressors of life we have hope to believe that we can choose, to a degree, a happier outcome. Is this not why we love the classic stories like Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables, whose heroines chose joy in the midst of circumstances that are beyond their control and unexpected hardships of life that can derail us? Lyricist Katherine Hankey’s hymn is still so meaningful today:
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true
It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.
We long for something to satisfy our longings, to bring resolution to the conflicts, pandemics and trials in our lives, something to pin our hopes to, to remind us that we can dare hope for something meaningful in the midst of all the pain.
It is, after all, in these contrasts of our own lives that we must learn to move to the rhythm of grace, giving ourselves space and grace…Space for our soul to find the rest we all crave in a world of noise; time to allow His presence to soak deep in our souls without the resistance of a care-worn schedule; grace to let go of a superficial busyness so we can perceive the Deep Work of His Presence; ultimately, to give ourselves permission to rest in space and time so as not to feel alone as we delve deeper in our fellowship with God, established in the sense of Belonging and Purpose in our relationship with Him, established even in the midst of the contrasts of our lives, as Deep calls to deep (Psalm 42:7); as we go from Strength to strength (Psalm 84); as we go from Glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18); as we move in His Spirit, Grace upon grace (Jn. 1:16).
“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.”
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength.”
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Cor. 3:18
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”
Story resonates deeply within all of us. Story helps us as we strengthen our position in who we are in Christ and our sense of belonging in a world that sometimes doesn’t make sense, and our being muscles build through each trial we overcome. The concept of Story catapults us in our own storyline as we, in our own measure, defeat each conflict and leap, as it were, from glory to glory. Story helps us understand how to extend grace piled upon grace to the hero or heroine of our own storylines, as we sometimes stumble along, figuring out the plot twists of our lives.
And in the midst of it all, as we ascend further up and further in, is the greatest Story of all.
We are not going to a strange country,
since it is His country whom we love and who loves us.