The four Pevensie children, whisked back into the Narnian world, make their way through woods in search of the refugee Prince Caspian. They use sound navigational reasons for the course they take, led by the boys, who have the better sense of direction. But Aslan appears to little Lucy and tells her to follow him. When she shares this epiphany with the others in the expedition party, they vote her down, and with bitter tears she falls in line behind them, as they proceed to get more and more lost. Aslan appears to her a second time, and there is this exchange:
“‘But it wasn’t my fault, was it?’ The Lion looked straight into her eyes. ‘… I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? … What would have been the good?’ Aslan said nothing. ‘You mean,’ said Lucy, rather faintly, ‘that it would have turned out all right—somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?’ ‘To know what would have happened, child?’ said Aslan. ‘No, nobody is ever told that.’ ‘O dear,’ said Lucy. ‘But anyone can find out what will happen,’ said Aslan. ‘If you go back to the others now and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out” (Prince Caspian). – from World magazine
There is only one way of finding out what will happen if we obey and follow Jesus. It is quite simple and the Nike slogan fits, “Just do it.”
I didn’t read the whole book, but the column quoted above motivated me to go back and read Prince Caspian to get the full context. C.S. Lewis brings to life through story what Bonhoeffer is trying to communicate through his words “only the obedient believe”. Lucy returns from her encounter with Aslan and attempts to wake her brothers and sister. They are comfortable in their sleep and do not believe her. Only her brother Edmund believes her enough to promise to go with her and to help her wake the others. He obeys not because he has seen Aslan, but because of his love for his sister. Eventually, the children are all awake and agree to follow Susan. They must follow her, because she is the only one who can see Aslan. As they follow, they begin to see Aslan, first as a shadow and eventually as substance. Obedience led to belief.
There is another element to this story that connects with me. Aslan challenges Lucy to follow him regardless of whether the other children follow or not. She is the youngest and her oldest brother Peter is the one in charge of their group. To obey Aslan will be to disobey Peter. After her first encounter with Aslan she chooses to follow Peter. After her second encounter, she is determined to follow Aslan. I can’t even count the number of times I have gone along with the majority when I felt God was leading another way. I’ll never know what might have happened had I followed where I thought Jesus was leading.
Where is Jesus leading today? Will I be willing to follow and obey?