I finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis) this afternoon and there’s one moment from book 4, Prince Caspian, that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since I read it. About halfway through the novel, Lucy, the youngest Pevensie child, is convinced that she’s seen the great lion, Aslan – Lewis’ portrayal of God in the novels – and that he’s telling them to go in a certain direction. Lucy’s companions don’t believe her and set off in the other directions, with Lucy reluctantly following. That route turns out to be a no-go, so they have to retrace their steps, eventually choosing to go by the route that Aslan showed Lucy. A little further on in the story, Lucy speaks with Aslan in a dream, and he asks her why she didn’t follow him. She replies that she was scared because the others didn’t believe her, Aslan then asks, gently, why that stopped her. Lucy can’t answer.
I don’t know about you, but I can apply this story to my life in more situations than I would like to count. Every missed opportunity to talk to someone about God, every compromise made because of what other people want to do is like seeing God, then walking in the other direction because that’s what everyone else was doing. This is a minor example and doesn’t involve making a choice to speak out for God, but this weekend I went to a different church with my family. This church was more reserved than my regular church and only one woman was putting up her hands in worship (I appreciate that this concept will probably be unfamiliar to non-Christians, you could imagine it as if there is only one person cheering at a sports game). At the church I normally go to, it’s common to put up your hands and a lot of people do it. Anyway, while we were singing the worship songs, I wanted to lift my hands but a part of me was holding back, thinking ‘I’m a stranger here, won’t they all think I’m a bit nuts?’ It was at that point that I felt God saying to me ‘Why should that stop you?’ From that point on, I had no trouble raising my hands. I know that that’s a minor example, and not comparable to sharing the gospel with a non-Christian or going against a group of friends that want to do something you’re not comfortable with, but for me in that situation, it was a real choice I had to make that illustrates the point I’m trying to make here.
Of course, I’m with C. S. Lewis in the opinion that you should not let other’s unbelief stop you from doing what you know is right. I make mistakes, I assume that everyone does, and sometimes, I have to force myself to face up to God’s question ‘Why didn’t you follow me?’ I don’t know about you, but I never have a good answer to that question. What excuse could I have for not following God? There is a warning from Jesus in the Bible that not everyone who calls him ‘Lord’ will be recognised as a follower of Jesus (Matt. 7:21-23). I personally don’t want to be one of those people who calls Jesus ‘Lord’ with my mouth but ignores him with my body. Furthermore, God will give you the strength to face whatever situation you’re in; if you’re struggling and ask for guidance, he’s not going to ignore you (Luke 11:11-13)!
I’m on a journey to holiness, just like every true Christian. I don’t pretend to be there yet; my body is sinful (Rom. 7:21-25). However, I know that the blood that Jesus’ shed is enough to make me clean and I know that God will give me the strength that I lack. With all this, I have no excuses for not following Jesus. Just like Lucy, if I screw up and God asks ‘Why didn’t you follow me?’ I will have no good answer. I’d imagine that there are many of you out there who are just like me, facing challenges daily in which we have to make a choice: to follow God or not. In those situations, I hope and pray that I will not have to appear before God in shame, and I hope that none of you will either. So let’s pray for strength, and be confident in the knowledge that God is right there for us. He won’t let us down, so we should do our best not to let him down either.