Lately I have been looking for good stories to read. By chance I happened upon the book Kite Runner, bought it, and read it through in two days. I had forgotten how much I liked reading stories until I came across this book. It is intense in sections and better for mature readings, but it was an engaging story, full of sharp irony. To make a long story short I realized that I needed another good story, not mindless fiction. The Horse and His Boy is the book I found and it set me thinking about the nature of God’s working in our lives.
There is a section in The Horse and His Boy where Shasta is walking in the fog and realizes that there is something walking next to him. The creature or being is frightens Shasta, but he tries to ignore it. Finally, he asks the creature, “‘Who are you?’” he said, scarcely above a whisper. ‘One who has waited long for you to speak,’ said the Thing.” Shasta eventually tells the Thing of his troubled life and all the misery that has befallen him on his journey to Narnia, especially of all the lions that he encountered along the way. Strangely the Thing does not think that these were unfortunate. This voice in the fog goes on to correct him that there was only one lion. Then the Thing said:
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
Eventually the reader sees that because of all these horrible events Shasta is able to save the country ruled by his true father. Through it all the Lion was there taking care of him. Only in the fullness of time does Shasta see that all these terrible events were being used for good and that he had been protected through it all. One element that stands out about the protection is that it was often terrifying. For example, in order to scare the jackals away from Shasta at the tombs, the Lion also had to scare Shasta. If you have read the story you know that in the end Shasta not only saves his people, but becomes king. If you have not then I have just ruined the story for you. I think that Lewis is trying to convey the point that everything we are going through is intentional. As the Hermit says when Aravis complains about how unlucky they have been on their travels, “[I] have never yet met any such thing as Luck.” What we are going through may be miserable and even terrible, but in the end it is being worked towards great and unseen good. God has been with us all along though he may feel like a shadow in the fog or not appear to be with us at all. Some things that he does to shield us from harm may be terrifying or dreadful. In the end of the tale there is a purpose, however.
Of course life may not end up like a fairy tale as in this story. One saving the kingdom and becoming a king after living a life of struggle is not likely to happen to us. The understanding may not come in this life. Whether it will come in this life or the next, the masterpiece that we have been staring at through a pin-hole will suddenly be revealed in its entirety. The little patterns and lines that we thought were unconnected will suddenly be seen as essential to a wonderful piece of art.