As we read on in the Last Battle we get to an altogether darker state of affairs. Narnia has fallen, and those with the true king are few and far between. Tirian has wanted to send the children home, but they refuse, and there is no way to send them on:
When Tirian realised that the two strangers could not get home (unless Aslan suddenly whisked them away) he next wanted them to go across the southern mountains into Archenland where they might possibly be safe. But they didn’t know their way and there was no one to send with them. Also, as Poggin said, once the Calormenes had Narnia they would certainly take Archenland in the next week or so: the Tisroc had always wanted to have these Northern countries for his own. In the end Eustace and Jill begged so hard that Tirian said they could come with him and take their chance—or, as he much more sensibly called it “the adventure that Aslan would send them.”
The story moves on to the final confrontation between Tirian and the Calormen invaders. There is no real hope in the battle and as it moves towards the inevitable defeat we read these words:
Rishda Tarkaan was still talking to his men, doubtless making arrangements for the next attack and probably wishing he had sent his whole force into the first. The drum boomed on. Then, to their horror, Tirian and his friends heard, far fainter as if from a long way off, an answering drum. Another body of Calormenes had heard Rishda’s signal and were coming to support him. You would not have known from Tirian’s face that he had now given up all hope.
It doesn’t sound like cheerful material for a blog post, or to have much cheerful application to life with God.
However, I think the attitude of Tirian and his friends is an important one to learn from. They are marching to battle knowing that there is little or no hope, and yet knowing that loyalty to Narnia and to Aslan demands that action. This is an attitude that we need also. Sometimes the right thing to do is also one that will not bring immediate success.
We live in an age where we do not like to hear that. We’d often rather hear about “Your best life now” – but it strikes me that the authentic Christian attitude is one that is willing to stick at a decision, or course of action, or belief, if that is the one that Christ would have us do.
That could apply to a church, seeking to follow Christ in a particular area, sticking to a particular belief or practice because they are seeking to remain true to what Jesus wants, even if it will cost them members or money. It can apply to you or me, when we see that following Jesus is going to cost something right now. There is no guarantee with Jesus that following him will work out right now. Sometimes we, like Tirian and friends will find ourselves in what seems to be an utterly hopeless situation.
In the midst of that we need to not lose sight of two things. One is the fact that in the midst of all the mess God is working out his purposes. In Narnia they say “the adventure that Aslan sends” as the way of affirming that God is at work. In the midst of all that is going on, we need to remember that God is with us. Adrian Plass (in Safe, Tender, Extreme) quotes Oswald Chambers:
We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself.
What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea”
with no shore,
nor goal in sight,
but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea”
The second focus we have to remember is that one day it will be all right. One day the storms and turmoil will cease. If I blog any more on the Last Battle we will reach that day soon. But just this morning I reached the end of 1 Corinthians 15. It is a truly glorious chapter that builds to a wonderful crescendo of praise to God.
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But strikingly Paul does not finish there. The final verse brings us back down to the present:
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
In other words keep on keeping on. Keep on following Jesus. Don’t give up, because nothing we do out of obedience to Jesus is wasted. Ever. We may not see why. We may never, this side of eternity, understand the reason, but keep on. Jesus is with you now, and one day you will see the full picture.