"Mommy, what happened to Aslan?"

Since we were both off work this past week, my wife and I finally went to see the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” the other day. Since it has been out for a few weeks, the theater was not packed, but a high percentage of the audience was families with children ranging in age from4 or5 to preteen. Sitting immediately around us were two families with kids in this age range. As kids will do when watching something they don’t fully understand, the younger ones were asking questions about the action as the movie went on.

It occurred to me as we were leaving the theater that there were questions this movie raised that a parent would find pretty difficult to answer for themselves without an understanding of Christ and the cross. I’m thinking in particular of the scene in which Aslan goes to the Stone Table willingly in place of Edmund. He is ridiculed, his mane is shaved, he is beaten, bound, and dragged to the altar. The White Witch gleefully delivers the deathblow and declares victory. As she and her evil minions go off to what they believe will be the final defeat of the army of Aslan, the scene quiets and Lucy and Susan come to altar to say goodbye to their fallen hero.

It’s at this point where one could imagine a child asking the question I have used as the title of this post. How does a parent explain laying down one’s life for another from the perspective of today’s culture? Then, what does a parent do with what happens after as Aslan is raised to life again in subsequent scenes?

For many children, the standard “It’s just a story, sweetie” answer may be satisfactory, but if tales like this do anything for us, they raise questions of deeper meaning. I hope this question will nag at parents who do not accept or understand, or even know about what Christ did for us on the cross, something that C. S. Lewis surely had in mind as he penned this story fifty-plus years ago.

And for us Christians, what a wonderful opportunity to help our children understand the story of Jesus and the cross. While it is an imperfect analogy, as all analogies ultimately are, when one of our kids asks about what Aslan did and what happened to him, we can use this as an opportunity to tell them how it compares with what Jesus did for each of us.

Of course, the other parallel in the story is plain to those of us who have believed in and accepted the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We can all say, without hesitation, “I am Edmund.”

A Slip on the Stairs

A lot has happened in the two months since my last post here. A few days after my last post in October, we had a freak accident in our house that resulted in the loss of one of our precious Shelties. Our older one, Picture Perfect Spenser, had a bad fall going down our basement stairs early one morning for his first trip outside. Nothing unusual about this particular morning…just a simple tumble down the stairs. No immediately apparent serious injuries, but by the afternoon when my wife got home he was partially paralyzed.

After tests, back surgery, continued deterioration over the weekend and lots of tears and questions why, we made the decision to let him go. A faithful companion for seven years, a loving and deeply loved part of our family, taken by a simple slip on the stairs.

I tried many times in the past eight weeks to write about it, but the nearness of the loss and then intervening busy-ness kept me from it. So here I am tonight, about seven years to the day from when we brought him home reminiscing about the lessons I learned from his life. Phillip Keller is a much better writer that I am, and much of what he wrote in “Lessons from a Sheepdog” applies to what we learned from Spenser.

Beyond the lessons about what love is like and what our relationship with God is like, as Keller describes in his book, I’m thinking about the fragility of life. As I walk downstairs tonight after I finish writing, I could fall and be gone from this life in the blink of an eye. This is one of the consequences of a fallen world. Most of my time is spent dealing with preserving what could be gone in that instant. Yet I am reminded of Jesus’ words about birds and flowers and grass and me. I am called to seek first his Kingdom, to keep my eyes on what God values, to press on to his higher calling. To remember that, like our Spenser depended on us for everything he had, for his very life, I am dependent on a God who is vastly more generous that I will ever dream of being…who has lavished his grace on me. Hallelujah!