Here’s the thing with being suggested a topic like ‘a favourite song or movie that’s been meaningful to you this year’, my mind went blank and then flipped frantically between James Bond to Ratatouille to The Great Dictator to E.T. When the dust finally settled, it was on scene from a long-time favourite movie (and book!) that surfaced—it’s the famous ‘Lucy looks into the wardrobe’ scene from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia series.
I can see it even now, as Lucy steps toward the wardrobe, the drop of the background score and the swish of the drape as it falls off the wardrobe, and the moment when she turns the knob and steps in. And then Lucy gropes her way, arms outstretched and an eye always on the open wardrobe door leading back to the house (because as Lewis himself writes, ‘She had of course left the door open, for she knew that it is a very silly thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe’). And finally that moment of uncertainty yielding to wonder when the fur coats give way to the crunch of snow and the first glimpse of Narnia.
It’s been a ‘looking into a wardrobe’ sort of year. Somewhat like little Ms. Pevensie, I too have walked up to ‘wardrobes’ of life, new circumstances, opportunities and relationships. And, it has been with some trepidation that I have turned the knob on them to walk through and into unfamiliar terrain tinged with the possibility of wonder and adventure. So, what’s new with that? It’s not uncommon anymore to be someone or to know someone who has embarked upon fresh journeys whether they come disguised as opportunities, relationships, jobs & careers. No big deal.
It’s the all-too-familiar questions: what’s going to happen if there’s danger, mistrust and ‘White Witches’ on the ‘other’ side? And suppose the other side of the wardrobe really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? What if the familiar humdrum and tediousness of this side of life persists? What if ‘Narnia’ loses its wonder?
God has an amusing way (in hindsight) of bringing you face to face with these questions. And in doing so to successfully turn the spotlight back on you. For me, the journey involved stepping out into the unknown and uncharted—new projects, the opportunity to impact lives and greater depths of stewarding mine and other people’s hopes, time and resources. Big words like accountability and influence loomed on the horizon. Next, it meant that when I lose sight of the door that leads back to ‘safety’, God had left the choice in my hands—to either trust Him to lead me to Narnias beyond my questions and imagination or not trust Him. The knowledge of that choice and making that choice were two very separate milestones on the journey. I dived in. What next?
It was Narnia! The unfamiliarity and thrill of reaching into the unknown and changing lives was (and still is) beyond comprehension. And, increasing moments of tedium also punctured it. What now? Here arose the next choice—to either live with a sense of wonder or whine about the tedium.
There’s a song by Amanda Cook, Wonder, that helped along the way. So did deliberately stopping to cultivate gratitude, and an atmosphere of expectancy in my walk with God. That was the catch to that last question, ‘what if Narnia loses its wonder?’ In reality, sometimes Narnias do lose their wonder. But if I could choose to source my wonder from God and inject that sense of awe into life, Narnia would get flipped around to a whole new dimension.
The choice worked for me. Everyday metro rides to and from office took on the gleam of endless opportunity. Commonplace conversations with colleagues about tasks at hand took an inspirational and creative turn. It’s not a done deal as yet and there are days I still have to deliberately work at it. Sometimes journaling helps and on other days a Starbucks coffee is all that’s needed.
Closing paragraphs are tougher than opening lines. Summarizing the plot line of a favorite movie is easy enough, but collapsing its personal significance into a takeaway line is something else altogether. But the doorknob’s been turned now and there is the promise of something bigger than myself that I’ve stepped into.
What I have are the tools, cloaked as choices that are offered as I walk this abundant life of Christ, for this and the many more Narnias to come. I’m grateful to Lucy for walking up to and through the wardrobe; she’s forever thrown open the door and the journey to . . . the other side of the wardrobe.
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