I had the strange and embarrassing experience a few months ago of becoming emotionally overwhelmed in the midst of reading a bedtime story to my daughter. Most evenings, one of us reads aloud to our kids as they settle down for bed and on this particular evening, without any warning, I lost my composure, forced my way through to the end of the chapter, then quickly ran into the bathroom and then I began, what can only be described as sobbing. I’m pretty sure that my six year old daughter, snuggled up against my side, methodically brushing her freshly washed hair, was oblivious to my pregnant pauses, tightened jaw and voice cracking. “Dad,” she said impatiently, “keep reading.”
We had a hard year of loss and disappointment and on this particular evening, I had some specific situations on my mind. Our friend, Nate, was in the ICU with a grim prognosis. Just the previous weekend, he had been on the schedule at church to play the trumpet and now, desperate prayers were offered in our church community, interceding for a miraculous recovery. I was also thinking of a child in Fort Wayne, IN, who is my first-cousin-once-removed. Silas Ward was the second adopted child of my cousin, Sam and his wife Sara. When they brought him home he was a normal baby, but after the first year, they noticed a delay in some of his development. Problems eating and weak muscles pointed to a mysterious problem that had doctors baffled. Eventually, they determined that Silas was born with an extremely rare neurological disorder called “Leigh’s Disease” which was slowly destroying his brain cells. This fall, my cousin said goodbye to Silas who only lived to be 2 years old.
The night I wept, our bedtime reading was from “Prince Caspian” from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. The stories are an allegory for the Kingdom and the gospel of Jesus, who is portrayed symbolically by an enormous and powerful lion named, Aslan. In “Prince Caspian”, the wondrous and magical creatures of Narnia had long been forgotten and been replaced by drab, empirical and secular humans known as the Telmarians. The chapter I was reading that night was the story of the incarnation of Aslan back into Narnia. The giant lion, with an almost kitten-like joy, bounds through the streets of a small village leading a teaming crowd of magic creatures as the dumbfounded Telmarians stand in amazement. Much like the life of Jesus we find in the gospels, this savior goes through the town healing, delivering, and redeeming. My favorite example is when Aslan finds a boy being beaten by a man with a stick. Aslan turns the stick into a bundle of flowers, then he turns the man into a tree rooted into place as the boy begins laughing and dancing. The chapter ends with the discovery of an elderly woman who is about to die when Aslan speaks and the disease leaves her. She sits up, healed and filled with joy and wonder at seeing Aslan.
As I’m reading this, I feel the presence of Christ in the room with us. As amazing as Aslan is, he is only a copycat of the actual glory of the incarnation of Jesus. I saw in the story, the deep brokenness of my own heart in such tragedy and loss juxtaposed with the unmeasured joy that comes in the wake of the eternal life and healing of Jesus. In wonder and adoration like Mary Magdalene after the resurrection of her brother Lazarus, I wept at the feet of Jesus. There with my daughter in the dim light of her bedroom, my eyes and my heart were opened to come and behold Him, born the king of Angels.
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.