In C.S. Lewis’ opening Narnian Chronicle titled “The Magician’s Nephew”, one of the main characters, Digory, faces an excruciatingly tough decision.
He is tasked by Aslan to go to a tree and pick off an apple. This apple will bring about a “tree of protection” to defend Narnia against the evil that he (Digory) brought into it on the day of its birth. While traveling, he encounters an evil enchantress named Jadis who horribly tempts him.
In Digory’s homeland of England, his mother is very sick. He is told by Jadis that picking an apple for her will save her life and bring her healing. Our friend Digory has a choice to make; not whether or not to pick an apple, but for whom the apple he picks will be for.
Sometimes obedience isn’t easy. He can pick the apple for Aslan’s purposes and be obedient, but possibly lose his mother in the process. Or, he can pick the apple for his own purposes (which seem honorable), but be disobedient.
Which would you choose?
Obeying God can sometimes feel like this- impossibly tough choices that seem to have negative outcomes either way- but there’s always blessing at the end of obedience.
Digory painfully decides to obey Aslan.
“Digory never spoke on the way back, and the others were shy of speaking to him. He was very sad and he wasn’t even sure all the time that he had done the right thing, but whenever he remembered the shining tears in Aslan’s eyes, he became sure.”
And in choosing obedience, Aslan grants him a second apple for the healing of his mother. An interesting comment is made by Aslan at their encounter. Aslan tells him that if he had made the wrong choice, his mother would surely have been healed, “but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness.”
When we allow our loves to be properly ordered, meaning we love God first and foremost, we can truly love everything else. When we put other loves before God, “we will find that we can’t love even them.”
Nothing and no one can truly replace God.
I retell this story to point to the heart of a passage in Leviticus 26.
“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit… And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” (vs.3-4,12)
“But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heartache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.” (vs 14-16)
The Israelites would experience great blessing by serving God, and great dismay by serving self. There may be times when serving self seems better, but in the end, it will surely lead to death. Following God, even at the cost of severe self-denial, always leads to life.
When you consider the choices that you are being faced with today, know and believe that obedience to God is always best. And when things get tough…“Remember the shining tears of Aslan.”
Read more from Matt Losee at his personal blog, Looking Unto Jesus