Today, I turned the last page on The Last Battle with Jonah. Nagged with secret guilt over our failure to read this culmination of our favorite series, he and I finally decided the only remedy was to make the time. And so, several months ago, we plunged in together, and I read aloud to him this masterpiece by C.S. Lewis.
Although there were parts that I loved as well as parts with which I did not agree, we made memories reading this dear book. We gaped at the Ape’s brashness while driving to help clean a friend’s house. We held our breath in suspense for the king’s life while on our way to dinner. And with near giddiness we rediscovered our old friend, Reepicheep, in the Wal-Mart parking lot. But today, at our lunch table, I turned the last page and read the words that will be seared on my heart forever:
“‘The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.’ And as [Aslan] spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.”
Even our most festive of holidays here on earth are only a shadow of the holiday of Heaven. And thus even the most draining of exams in this life is only a part of the school term that will soon be over.
Yet this short term of life is necessary. It is God’s term of gift-giving, of sinner-loving, and of saint-commissioning. It is my chance to fall to the depths of the ocean and find His love still there. A chance to soar to heights of prowess and find His glory still greater. A chance to despair that all is lost and the way out gone forever, only to see His saving Hand outstretched toward my shrinking fingers. A chance to see the holy beauty of God in stark contrast to the wilds of this world.
This world is only the Shadow-Lands. It is only the school term; it is but a dream. It is the landscape seen rushing past a car window. The dress rehearsal, the prologue, the introduction...to eternity.
This busy December Tuesday, hold fast to this hope without wavering: the end of the term will come before you know it, and then the holidays will begin!
Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read