On Dreams and Books and Mysteries
One of my daily rhythms is good books. Some I finish, some I only start, but I love sitting in my rocking chair with a good book to read. All summer, I have been reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. My inquiry into these books started almost as an accident - my sister loaned me the first few books on vacation, and I devoured them and wished I had brought the whole series. For the longest time, I had read Lewis’ works of non-fiction, but had never thought much of his fiction beyond being scared to death of the cartoon version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe that I saw when I was a kid.
From reading his non-fiction, I have long held the belief that if Lewis was writing these books today, he would be crowned a heretic by the religious right. But after reading his fiction, I am absolutely sure he would be crucified by them. But, somehow the time he wrote in allowed him to arrive in this century relatively unscathed and as one of the most quoted Christian writers - a fact for which I am very thankful.
I will be forever grateful to C.S. Lewis. When I was struggling with the ideas of pre-destination, Lewis has helped open my eyes to the glories and mysteries of God, to how big the world is, and to how God is not an evil dictator. When I was struggling with my theology of heaven, C.S. Lewis made it all so simple and showed me just one idea of what it might be like.
For months it seems, I have been hearing about the last book in the Narnia series - The Last Battle. My homegroup leader discussed its theology, a friend quoted the phrase “further up and further in”, and I was anxious to read this oh-so-revealing book. I finally got to it. Nearing the end of the book, I knew I would want to really soak in the last chapters and read it in a quiet place, so I waited to finish it.
A couple nights later, I had a really strange dream. It was really more beautiful than strange, but here it goes. I dreamt of shooting stars first. They started slowly, but then became more rapid and then started falling in patterns. Then I dreamed of a giant waterfall coming out of the clouds. Lastly, I dreamt of water rising towards the shore like a tidal wave, but feeling no fear and the wave stopping just shy of the shore. When I woke up, I had this overwhelming feeling that the dream had been about heaven.
Now, I feel the need to explain - I am not a hokey person. I do not often have strange dreams that mean anything, so I just brushed this one off and thought, “well, that was a cool dream.”
That night, I was telling my sister about it and she got all weird and asked me, “Jan, have you finished the Last Battle yet?” When I told her I had not, she just said, “you need to read it!”
I was intrigued to say the least. That night, I found a quiet spot and finished the book.
You know those moments when God is doing something, but you feel like an outside observer because you cannot quite believe what is happening? That is how I felt when I was reading these chapters. I read about how these kids arrived in what we would call “heaven”, but what is really the new heaven and the new earth. I read as the world (Narnia) ended and all the stars fell to the earth like shooting stars. I read as water covered the earth and stopped exactly at the right place. I read as these kids ascended a waterfall coming from the clouds.
I have no idea why I dreamed a dream that echoed this book so truly and strangely. Maybe it was only a reminder that God is here, that heaven is real and beautiful and not what we think at all. Or maybe the meaning was something else that I cannot see yet.
Until then, read The Last Battle. Expand your view of what heaven might look like and marvel at the great imaginations that God has given us. And let this bring tears to your eyes as it did to mine: